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Full text of "History of the Second Massachusetts Battery (Nims' Battery) of Light Artillery, 1861-1865"

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Copyright]^?. 

COPVRIGHT DEPOSm 




HISTORY OF THE SECOND MASSACHU- 
SETTS BATTERY OF LIGHT ARTILLERY 




Capt. Orniand F. Nima in War Ti 



HISTORY OF THE SECOND 
MASSACHUSETTS BATTERY 

(NIMS' BATTERY) 

OF LIGHT ARTILLERY 
1861-1865 

COMPILED FROM RECORDS OF THE REBELLION, 
OFFICIAL REPORTS, DIARIES AND ROSTERS 

By 
CAROLINE E. WHITCOMB 



••• 



THE RUMFORD PRESS 
CONCORD • N • H • U • S • A- 



C^. 



'if 



Copyright. 1912 
^ CAROLINE E. WHITCOMB 




CONTENTS 

PAGE 

NIMS' SECOND MASSACHUSETTS BATTERY 7 

NIMS' BATTERY ASSOCIATION 73 

LIFE OF COL. ORMAND F. NIMS 79 

ROSTER OF SECOND MASSACHUSETTS BATTERY ... 85 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Capt. Ormand F. Nims in War time . . . Frontispiece 

tacino 

PAOE 

Battery Encampment at Stewart's Place, Baltimore, 

1861 12 

Landing of Federal Troops from Transport, Laurel Hill 38 

Second, Fourth, and Sixth Massachusetts Batteries at 

Baton Rouge 47 

Col. Ormand F. Nims 73 

Old Nims Homestead at Deerfield, Mass 79 

David Nims, first town Clerk of Keene, N. H. . . . 80 



PREFACE 

DURING the years which have followed the close of 
the Civil War, there have appeared many liistories 
of various companies, regiments and different 
divisions of the volunteer troops, all of value both to the 
historian and to the participants in the great struggle. So 
far as can be learned, almost nothing has been published of 
the military history of the 2d Massachusetts Light Artillery, 
better known as Nims' Battery, save a few short sketches 
necessarily incomplete and sometimes inaccurate. 

In 1870, at the Anniversary Dinner of the Nims' Battery 
Association, the matter of "pubhshing a history of the bat- 
tery during its service throughout the war of the Rebellion, 
1861-1865," was brought forward and a committee was 
appointed to take the necessary steps toward this work. 
The committee, which consisted of Col. O. F. Nims, J. S. 
Knowlton, John R. Smith, A. M. Norcross, D. M. Hammond 
and A. B. Burwell, issued a call to the members of the bat- 
tery asking each one to forward to the committee any infor- 
mation in his possession such as diaries, letters, newspaper 
clippings or matter of any kind that might aid in the work, 
and urging the hearty cooperation of all "to the end that 
the glorious record made by Nims' Battery — second to no 
other — may not be sufiFered to perish in obU^don in our day 
and generation, but be handed down to our children and 
children's children for all time." 

So far as can be ascertained, nothing further was done m 
the matter and the only records to be found are those incor- 
porated in the general histories of the war or in war records, 
which are not always easy of access. 

At the request and through the generosity of a member 

9 



10 Second Massachusetts Battery 

of the Nims' Family Association, the writer has prepared 
the following brief account of the military career of Nims' 
Battery, together with the life of its commander, the history of 
the Battery Association and the complete roster . After a period 
of fifty years, it has been impossible to gather together the 
personal reminiscences and to bring before our readers the 
life of an artillery man as clearly as we could wish. We 
trust, however, that there will be found in the pages of this 
book a fairly complete and reasonably accurate record of 
the military career of this organization. 

At a meeting of the Nims' Battery Association held on 
April 19, 1912, the manuscript of the entire history was read 
to the members present and received their support and 
commendation. 

The author wishes to express her obligation to all who have 
assisted in any way in the preparation of this work, and 
especially to W. G. Hidden, Fitchburg, Mass., for the loan 
of diary, newspaper clippings and suggestions, to Capt. E. K. 
Russell for his comments and suggestions and to Mrs. Math- 
ews, stepdaughter of Col. O. F. Nims for the loan of papers, 
letters and pictures once the property of Colonel Nims. 
Thanks are also due Clarence K. Knowlton for the copy of 
the diary of his father, J. S. Knowlton, to Mrs. C. B. Max- 
well for the diary of C. B. Maxwell, to Mr. George Houghton, 
Newport, for the diary of his father, George Houghton. 

The expense of the preparation and publication of the book 
has been borne to a large degree by Mr. E. D. Nims of Kansas 
City whose generosity is appreciated both by members of the 
Battery and by the Nims' Family Association. 

The Author. 



Books Consulted in Preparation of this Work 

War of the Rebellion, Official Records of the Union and 
Confederate Armies. 

Massachusetts in the Civil War. I. L. Bowen. 

History of the Civil War. B. J. Lossing. 

Putnam's Record of the Rebellion. Moore. 

Century Company's War Book. 

The Mississippi. J. V. Greene. 

The Nineteenth Army Corps. Irwin. 

Regimental and Battery Histories of New Hampshire 
and Massachusetts. 



NIMS' SECOND MASSACHUSETTS 
BATTERY 

FEW batteries during the Civil War saw more actual 
service than that known officially as the 2d Massa- 
chusetts Light Artillery, but more generally called 
Nims' Battery. Its career is well worth recording and the 
part it played in the campaigns of the Department of the 
Mississippi and the Gulf was by no means inconsiderable in 
the history of the war. 

Previous to 1861, there existed in Boston a military organ- 
ization called the Boston Light Artillery or Cook's Battery. 
When the news came from Baltimore that the Sixth Regi- 
ment had been fired on and the city was in the hands of 
rioters. General Butler who was then in Philadelphia, asked 
that this organization be sent forward immediately to the 
scene. 

It was midnight of April 19, 1861, when the telegraph 
brought the request: before the night of the 20th every- 
thing was in readiness and in the early morning of the 21st 
the first battery from Massachusetts was on its way to 
Baltimore for a period of three months' service. 

It had not left Boston, however, before Governor Andrews 
gave orders for the formation of a second battery and desig- 
nated Major Moses Cobb as its commander. Recruiting 
headquarters were opened on the 20th of April at the Boston 
Light Artillery Armory under Major O. F. Nims, and in 
less than two days two hundred men applied for enlistment. 
"Every member, officers and men, was the greenest of 
raw material, but they were an intelhgent set of fellows and 
took to drilhng as a duck to water." Colonel Nims. 

13 



14 Second Massachusetts Battery 

Most of the men were from Boston and vicinity. 

The first pubhc appearance of the battery was on June 
17, when a parade was held on Boston Common, and on July 
4 a detachment fired a salute at morning, noon and night 
from the same historic spot. 

On July 5 the battery was ordered to the camp of instruc- 
tion at Wollaston Heights, Quincy, on what was known as 
the Adams estate, which consequently gave to the camp the 
name of Camp Adams. Here for a month, the men were 
drilled in all the movements from the position of a soldier to 
battery drill in the field and also as infantry and cavalry. 

Target practise, too, was introduced and for that purpose 
targets were placed at several points with reference to dis- 
tance and correctness in shooting. These afforded an excel- 
lent opportunity for the men to become familiar with their 
guns. 

On the 31st of July, the command was mustered into the 
United States service under the name of the 2d Massachu- 
setts Light Artillery, and from the same date the officers 
were commissioned. This was the first three years' battery 
from the state of Massachusetts. 

It was supposed that Major Cobb would take the battery 
into service, but he left the state abruptly and Governor 
^Andrews sent Adjutant General Schouler down to camp to 
ask Major O. F. Ninis, an experienced officer, to take com- 
mand and get to Washington as soon as possible. 

Nims replied: "I will accept a commission whenever it is 
tendered me but I wdll not ask for one." It was then sug- 
gested that the company be called on to elect a captain, but 
this did not meet with Major Nims' approval as he had 
made up his mind not to owe his position to the men under 
him. "No," said he, "make me an officer if you will and 
then ask them what they think of it." He was therefore 
given the rank of captain, the men were lined up and informed 
of what had been done. A wild shout of approval was their 



Second Massachusetts Battery 15 

reply, the men throwing their caps in tlie air as a further 
demonstration of their satisfaction. 

The roster of commissioned officers then was as follows: 

Captain, Ormand F. Nims. 
Senior 1st Lieut., John W. Wolcott. 
Junior 1st Lieut., John Bigelow. 
Senior 2d Lieut., Geo. G. Trull. 
Junior 2d Lieut., Richard B. Hall. 

NON-COMMISSIONED 

1st Sergeant, Lowell A. Chamberlain. 

Quarter Master Sergeant, Alden N. Norcross. 

Chief of Piece with rank of Sergeant, Frank J. Wliitcher, 
Warren K. Snow, Augustus B. Burwell, Henry P. Cheever, 
Orlando C. Harvey, Edward K. Russell. 

Gunners with rank of Corporal, Joseph S. Knowlton, 
Francis E. Howe, Joseph Ackerman, Wm. W. Jordan, Con- 
verse F. Livermore, Joseph W. Greenleaf. 

Chief of Caisson with rank of Corporal, Henry M. Wads- 
worth, Frederick A. Bellows, Edwin A. Andrews, Chas. F. 
Sherman, Lucian A. Hodgdon, S. S. Lmcoln. 

Artificers, C. W. Cobb, H. E. Brown, Seth H. Hatch, 
Peter Jacobus, Joseph S. Haven, Reuben B. H. Gould. 

An old artillery officer for many years in the English service 
visited the camp frequently and said that he never saw better 
material than the men in Nims' Battery. "They have," 
said he, "intelhgence and will, and a very few months of 
active service will find them in the front rank of merit in 
their class." Boston Journal, August 8, 1861. 

Preparations were made to break camp August 7, but owmg 
to an accident which befell the machinery of the steamer 
which was to convey the battery to New York it was neces- 
sary to wait until the following day. A quotation from a 
Boston paper dated August 8, 1861, is as follows: 



16 Second Massachusetts Battery 

"The Light Artillery Company commanded by Capt. 
O. F. Nims, after some delay as to their departure, left this 
city this morning, shortly after one o'clock, on the Providence 
Railroad, for New York and Washington, via Stonington. 
They were paid off yesterday afternoon for their time of 
service up to departure. For two days the scene at the camp 
at Quincy was lively indeed, the men bejng actively engaged 
in packing and preparing for departure. They left the 
old quarters at shortly after 7 o'clock last evening and 
marched over the turnpike to this city, arriving at the Provi- 
dence Railroad Station at a few minutes past 10 o'clock. 
At the depot were a considerable number of people who had 
been waiting for several hours for the arrival of the company. 

"As soon as the battery arrived at the station, the work of 
loading the gun carriages, wagons, horses, etc., was actively 
begun, each of the company lending a hand, and the work 
was accomplished in about two hours. This done, a few 
moments were given to saying a parting word to friends, 
after which the men were ordered to 'fall in,' and marched 
to the cars. On their departure, friends and lookers-on 
joined in giving three hearty cheers, which were enthusi- 
astically responded to by the members of the company. 

"On the train were 156 men, 140 horses, and 21 carriages, 
including the four baggage wagons, well loaded with the 
camp equipage and baggage of the men. They were sup- 
plied with about 1200 rounds of cartridges, including a 
considerable amount of grape and canister. The men have 
three days rations with them." 

At the time of organization, the uniform adopted was 
of a semi-zouave type, dark blue with red trimmings, the 
trousers loose to the knee, with russet leather leggins — 
grey shirt, a cut away jacket buttoned at the top with a 
loop, and a regular military cap trimmed with red. This 
made a very attractive uniform. Unfortunately during 
the stay in Quincy, the salt air took out the color, and 



Second Massachusetts Battery 17 

before going into service the men were provided with regula- 
tion United States uniforms. 

The guns were fine United States bronze ordnance guns 
from the Watervliet Arsenal, N, Y., rifled at Alger's Foundrj' 
in South Boston and throwing a shell made by Schenkcl, 
a very ingenious German. One kind of shell was in the 
shape of a sugar loaf with hollowed bore filled with ])apier- 
mache and weighing ten and one-half pounds,, a pound of 
powder being used to fire it. When discharged, the papier- 
mache would swell out, fill the grooves and give the shell a 
twist. The noise the projectile made on leaving the gun was 
very similar to that of a locomotive going through a tunnel. 
When the shell exploded, it flew all to bits — not two or three 
fragments but forty or fifty pieces. 

Another shell prepared by Schenkel was exceedingly 
deadly. It was filled with bullets and between the bullets 
sulphur was poured in to keep them in place. The horses 
were strong Vermont horses worth $150.00 to $200.00 each. 

Boston Journal, February 22, 1903. 

So the journey began, by rail to Stonington, then by boat 
to New York, then to Jersey City and over the old Camden 
and Amboy road to Philadelphia, arriving there Monday 
morning, August 11, 1861. 

A quotation from the Philadelphia Eiening Bulletin says: 

"Captain Nims' celebrated Light ArtiUery consisting of 
six pieces of rifled cannon, with caissons, ordnance wagons, 
one ambulance, together with 140 horses arrived at Wash- 
ington Avenue, at five o'clock. The company consists of 
150 men who are strong, hearty fellows just fitted for ar- 
tillery service. During the delay before starting for Balti- 
more, the men sang several pieces, among them America 
and Glory Hallelujah. The Union Volunteer Refreshment 
Committee provided them with breakfast and the men were 
loud in their praise of Philadelphia beneficence. 



18 Second Massachusetts Battery 

On arriving at Baltimore the men went into camp on the 
estate of the Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart on West 
Baltimore Street, the camp bearing the name of Camp Hale. 
Here drill was resumed in earnest, battery, piece and sabre 
drill and target practise. 

A letter to the Boston Journal bearing the date August 
18, 1861 gives the following picture of camp life. 

Camp Hale, Baltimore, 

August 18, 1861. 
To the Editor of the Boston Journal: 

We came through Baltimore on the 12th, on our way from 
Camp Adams to this encampment, which is situated on 
West Baltimore Street, is a half-mile outside of the city, and 
in General Stuart's Park, which is a beautiful place for an 
encampment, though as a park it is pretty well used up. 
General Stuart is a general in the rebel army, and at this 
place there were seized five hundred stand of arms. We 
have plenty of fruit here, but do not eat much. The Balti- 
moreans use us well and treat us as if we were their own 
citizens, but this may be owing somewhat to our guns. There 
are a good many secessionists here, but they keep very quiet 
and we do not have much to say to them. Coming through 
Baltimore we enlivened the streets with "Glory Hallelujah," 
and some savage faces were shown to us, but the sight of 
our seven-shooters kept them very quiet. 

We have just returned from bathing, and for this purpose 
we go within one mile of the Relay House, the roads being 
lined with thick woods. Houses are very scarce outside of 
the city, and very old and small, looking like huts. On 
Saturday we marched to the Pratt Street depot for the purpose 
of receiving and escorting two of our Massachusetts regi- 
ments, but they did not arrive, thus disappointing us and 
themselves, we have no doubt. The captain has just learned 
that some arms are stored in Pratt Street, and has ordered 



Second Massachusetts Battery 19 

our detachment to attend to examining the premises and put- 
ting things in order. To do this we take one baggage wagon, 
one gun, and twenty-five men, each armed with two seven- 
shooters and sabre, and thus we make easy work of it. 

We like our officers. Our captain is a man in the right 
place. We all like him, for he looks out for the boys. And 
we have a fine set of men, are very happily situated and 
every evening we have camp life in full activity. 

Our camp is somewhat different from that of a regiment, 
not having quite such strict orders to conform to, and having 
no guard duty to perform, that being done by the Fourth 
Pennsylvania Regiment. We are in excellent health, having 
had but one sick man since we left Camp Adams. It is 
probable we shall remain here for the present. Today is 
Sunday and most of thfe men are writing home. It is quite 
warm, but we have had no warmer weather here than we 
found at home. All letters should be directed to "Camp 
Hale," Baltimore, care Capt. O. F. Nims, Second Company 
Massachusetts Artillery. 

Encamped at Baltimore at the same time was the 17th 
Massachusetts, and a letter written by a member of that 
regiment follows: 

To the Boston Journal, September 5. 

"Nims' Artillery is at our left hand and a better set of 
fellows, officers and men were never brought together. 
May we remain together ' in union and for the Union' is 
the hearty wish of our officers. Our band goes over to their 
headquarters twice a week and the enlivening strains cause 
joy to them and will help to unite the two commands in still 
stronger fetters than the mere fact that we are all 'Bay State 
boys.' That is a strong card out here and when we unite 
in symphony as well as harmony it's a pretty good tune."— 

The boys won the respect and esteem of the citizens of 
Baltimore, even of the Southern sympathizers, and on Octo- 
ber 16, the loyal citizens of Ward 19 presented to the battery 



20 Second Massachusetts Battery 

a flag 20 X 35 feet which was mounted on a flag staff 100 feet 
in height prepared by the men. 

The Baltimore Clipper gives an account of the event: 

"Yesterday afternoon, at 4 o'clock, a large flag 26 x 20 
feet, was raised to the top of the pole which is 100 feet high, 
erected by the members of Nims' Boston Battery, at Camp 
Andrew, West Baltimore Street extended. At the appointed 
hour the line was formed in the rear of the pole, and the six- 
rifled cannon placed in front, in a line facing the city. The 
17th Massachusetts Regiment then formed a hollow square 
on the north side, when the Rev. Mr. Marshall, of the Twelfth 
Presbyterian Church, Franklin Street, by invitation, ad- 
vanced to the center of the square and offered a most fervent 
prayer, imploring divine mercies upon this Government. 

"At a signal given the flag was run to the top of the pole, 
during which the band of the 17th Massachusetts Regiment 
struck up the Star Spangled Banner, and at every tap of the 
bass drum a gun was fired. Three cheers were then given 
for the Stars and Stripes, which were joined in by the many 
hundreds present. Upon quiet being restored, the band 
played Yankee Doodle and Hail Columbia, and at each 
sound of the bass drum there was a gun fiired. This manner 
of salute, which is very common in Boston, is something 
new here, and created considerable applause. 

"After the ceremonies had ended, we were invited to take 
a stroll through the camp, which we accepted, and were 
much gratified with our visit. We found the men to be the 
most gentlemanly and agreeable set of fellows it has been our 
pleasure to meet for a long time. This battery does all its 
own work, such as horse-shoeing, harness making, saddling, 
etc. 

"From the general appearance of things, it looks as if they 
intended to quarter there for the winter, although all with 
whom we conversed seemed anxious to go to the seat of 
war. Their pieces are all marked No. 2, but this is certainly 



Second Massachusetts Battery 21 

the 'No. 1' Battery, and is so considered by all who know 
them, and any person who does not know them to be such, 
only need witness one of their drills to be convinced of the 
fact. The flag was a present from the Union men of the 
19th Ward." 

Still another clipping from a Boston newspaper for the 
truth of which we will not vouch, however, is entitled "None 
but the Brave deserve the Fair," "We learn by a private 
letter written by a member of 'Nims' Light Battery' from 
Baltimore, that its members are a little inclined to make 
sad havoc vnth. the affections of the young ladies of that 
city. 'Within the last few weeks three or four marriages 
have taken place. The " Battery boys" have been in great 
favor with the Union people ever since their arrival in the 
city, and by their gentlemanly behavior and good conduct 
have strengthened their friends' worthy appreciation. Within 
a fortnight one of them, a young man of Boston, led to the 
altar a daughter of one of the most respectable and wealthy 
Union citizens of Baltimore. One of the lieutenants and 
two privates have also enjoyed the pleasure of married life.' " 

On the 4th of November the battery, together with the 
4th Wisconsin Regiment, Col. H. E. Fame, and an indepen- 
dent company of Fennsylvania cavalry. Captain Richards, 
started on an expedition down the Chesapeake, landing at 
Whitehaven, Md., on the Wiacomo River and marching to 
Frincess Ann where they spent the night in the court house. 
The next day, the march was continued to Snow Hill. On that 
day, the men experienced some of the minor hardships of a 
soldier's hfe, for we read in the diary of George Houghton: 

"A very hard march in the rain over a\\-ful roads of sand 
and mud and the last two miles the water two feet deep. 
Some of the infantry gave out as this was their first experience 
and we took them on our wagons and caissons. After trav- 
eHng twenty miles we had to go to bed without any supper 
for the Jersey Blue, the boat carrying our rations, lost its 



22 Second Massachusetts Battery- 

way up the river and was a day late, I slept in the guard 
tent and most froze to death." 

Another says: "We were quartered in a negro church but 
no peace for the weary or hungry there. As our rations had 
not arrived, we came out minus on the supper question, all 
the food having been secured for the infantfy, who had seen 
hard marching and wading for a first experience." 

The day previous to the arrival at Snow Hill had been 
election day and the vote in the town had stood one majority 
in favor of secession. 

After a day or two in the negro church, camp was made 
in the woods near by in connection with the 4th Wisconsin 
and the cavalry. Sibley tents were given out and as one 
of the privates writes home: "They are real nice and com- 
fortable though there is no means for hanging up clothes. We 
have purchased a camp kettle and are cooking by detach- 
ments." 

The appearance of the country was unfamihar to our 
New England boys and one writes: "I've scarcely seen any- 
thing that deserves to be called a hillock and the soil is 
either wet, sandy, or swampy." Quite a change from the 
rock ribbed hills and mountains of the homeland. However, 
while critical of soil and landjscape, Maryland oysters met 
with universal approbation. Baked beans too had a familiar 
taste though sometimes when baked in a Dutch-oven under- 
ground the sand found its way in, giving a flavor not ap- 
proved by Bostonians. 

The purpose of this Eastern Shore campaign as it was called 
was to make a demonstration of Union forces in Somerset 
and Worcester counties, Md., where the feehng was strong 
for secession and where troops for the Confederacy were 
being recruited. On November 14, camp was broken at 
Snow EQll and the battery marched sixteen miles to Newtown, 
Md., where it joined the larger body of troops under General 
Lockwood, 



Second Massachusetts Battery 23 

The whole force now consisted of detachments from the 
4th Wisconsm, 21st Indiana, 6th Michigan, 5th New York, 
2d Delaware, Pursell's Legion of Maryland, 17th Massa- 
chusetts, Richard's Cavalry and the 2d Massachusetts Light 
Battery all in command of General Lockwood. 

November 13, General Dix had issued a proclamation' 
to the inhabitants of Accomac and Northampton counties, 
Virginia, urging them to peace and loyalty. To enforce 
this proclamation General Lockwood with his brigade left 
Newtown and went by way of Drummondtown and Belle- 
ville to Eastville toward the end of the peninsula. 

The battery arrived at Drummondtown, November 21. 
This was Thanksgiving Day and we read, "Poultry very 
plenty on the way. Bought (?) two turkeys and a goose 
for our dinner. Grand mistake of Corporal S. in boiling 
a chicken with a bar of soap." 

On the way from Drummondtown to Eastville scouting 
parties were sent out and in these the members of the bat- 
tery took part capturing seven six-pound guns, several 
hundred muskets, ammunition, and a brass twelve-pound 
Howitzer which had been buried in the woods. December 
1, a grand review was held by General Lockwood. 

As it was evident the Confederate forces had left the 
country and the purpose of the expedition had been accom- 
phshed, preparations were made for the return to Baltimore. 

Accordingly on December 12, the battery again went on 
board the Pocahontas and returned to its former camp in 
Baltimore after an absence of forty-seven days during which 
"the only sanguinary occurrence was the capture and 
slaughter of turkeys, geese, and other fowls for which severe 
punishment was meted out by General Lockwood." 

One of the men in a letter written home at this time writes: 
"We were amused somewhat at one time on the trip by the 
astonishment of an old darky who seeing our brigade inquired, 

iSee Off. Records, Vol. 5, p, 431. " 



24 Second Massachusetts Battery 

'Has all you genn'men got names?' and while we were 
waiting several days near the landing for transportation we 
spent our time out of doors and bathing in the waters of 
the bay which we thought pretty good for December." 

On the 18th of December, Lieutenants Wolcott and Bige- 
low resigned to accept positions in a Maryland battery. 
Second Lieutenants Trull and Hall were promoted to their 
positions and the vacancies were filled by the commissioning 
of William Marland of Andover and Sergeant Warren K. 
Snow of Boston as second lieutenants. 

Life at Camp Andrew from December tiU the following 
February was uneventful though by no means idle. The 
men worked hard, drills were held almost daily furnishing 
perhaps an explanation for the later record of the battery 
when real warfare began. Jn regard to this Capt. E. K. Rus- 
sell writes: 

"One of the things that won the love of the Union men of 
Baltimore was the frequent battery drills through the streets 
of that city. Captain Nims was always in command and the 
rapid movements of the battery as a whole, in sections, or 
single guns, stationed at certain points to command all 
avenues of approach at given points were simply marvellous. 
Much of the work was done by the bugle and if the bugler 
was not at hand our captain carried a small one under his 
arm and this would ring out the commands with a snap so 
that not only the men took notice but even the horses recog- 
nized the calls and jumped into the movements with a will. " 

It is evident that Captain Nims had a high ideal of what 
a battery should be and spared neither pains nor effort in 
his endeavor to reach this ideal. "This morning, drill. 
We jumped ditches, pond holes, anything that could be 
jumped, ran up banks six or eight feet high and then had 
a run down street." "Had a foot drill today and it was 
rough double quick — then the captain gave us instructions 
on dress parade." "Sabre drill on horseback." "Spent 



Second Massachusetts Battery 25 

about all day cleaning up harnesses, horses, etc. Captain 
came around and examined them." And so on day after 
day. 

Naturally new conditions of life prevailed and as some 
one has said "Citizens had to be made into soldiers." The 
regret manifested by the people of Baltimore when the 
battery was ordered south speaks well for the conduct and 
character of its men. Discipline of course was strictly 
maintained and we are not surprised to read in one diary, 
"Privates — and — had to walk in barrels eight hours a day 
for three days"; or " — was threatened with a barrel for 
missing roll call this morning." But certainly this does 
not seem like a very heinous offence to the civilian. 

Letters from home were eagerly welcomed. In one diary 
opposite the date December 25 we read "Letter from home — 
good Christmas present that "; and another writes "I don't 
get my letters so often as I wish I did." Boxes too were 
gladly received and their contents shared with less fortunate 
comrades. 

A quotation from the Boston Journal of February gives a 
picture of a social event in camp. "The first grand ball of 
the battery came off at Stewart's Hall, Baltimore, on Mon- 
day evening and was a grand success. The floor managers 
and musicians were all members of the battery. The order 
of dances consisted of a grand promenade, four quadrilles, 
some fancy dances and wound up with a 'walk around' by 
Mr. C. We hope to have our next ball in Boston among our 
friends." 

It was expected that the battery would now be attached 
to the Army of the Potomac but on the organization of Gen. 
B. F. Butler's expedition. Captain Nims and his men were 
assigned to the Department of the Guff and the Mississippi. 
Accordingly on February 25, 1862 the battery left Baltnnore 
and went by steamer Columhia to Fort Monroe canipmg 
near Hampton in view of the mouth of the James River and 



26 Second Massachusetts Battery 

of Hampton Roads. Here the men witnessed the destruc- 
tion of the warships Congress and Cumberland by the ram 
Merrimac and the encounter between the Monitor and the 
Merrimac. The following interesting account of the same 
is taken from a record written by S. P. Skilton, a member 
of the battery. 

"On the 8th of March at noon we heard heavy firing toward 
Newport News and the steam frigates Roanoke and Minne- 
sota and quite a lot of gunboats went up that way engaging 
the battery at Sewall's Point though their fire fell far short 
of it. The old steam frigate Merrimac had been cut down 
and iron clad by the Confederates and was whipping our 
vessels, as they were all wooden ones and could make scarcely 
any impression on the ironplated monster. After about an 
hour's hard fighting the Merrimac ran her prow into the 
CuTnherland, causing her to fill with water and rendering 
het useless. 

"Commodore Morris would not surrender nor haul down 
the flag but kept at work at the guns till water covered the 
decks. Night coming on, the Merrimac anchored off Sew- 
all's Point. That was a dark night for us, as with 
one exception nothing looked hopeful. We were cut off 
from help landward, the Congress was burned, the Cumber- 
land sunk, the Minnesota was aground and the Roanoke 
helpless with a broken shaft, while nothing seemed to check 
the ram at all. About midnight the Congress blew up. 
Among the dark rumors that night came a grain of hope in 
the report that an iron cased battery, the Ericsson which had 
been expected had arrived and would engage the Merrimac 
in the morning. Still it was but a grain. 

"Light on that Sabbath morning showed the new helper 
lying behind the Minnesota but looking rather insignificant. 
About eight o'clock the Merrimac came saucily out accom- 
panied by the Jamestown and Yorktown, wooden steamers 
and evidently expecting to have it all her own way as on the 



Second Massachusetts Battery 27 

previous afternoon. As she approached the Minnesota Ihe 
new comer came out from behind, which caused her to hesi- 
tate. She soon came on again when the Ericsson engaged her 
for several hours. At one o'clock the Merrimac hauled away 
for Norfolk with her guns all disabled while the Ericsson was 
not damaged at all. You can imagine there was great relief 
on the part of those who had stood watching and feeling 
that their own welfare depended on the outcome of that 
fight." 

The night preceding this naval battle one section of the 
battery under Lieutenant Trull accompanied by a company 
of 1st Delaware was on picket duty at White Gate, guarding 
the cross roads as an attack by land was looked for. The 
men stood at their guns all night, but morning dawned nvith- 
out the appearance of the enemy. At the same time the 
left section was stationed at Hampton Bridge under Lieuten- 
ant Hall. The morning of the same day the battery was 
ordered to Hampton Creek, where it remained for four hours 
firing several shots at the Merrimac, which was, however, 
too far away to be reached. 

While in camp at Fort Monroe there was a grand review 
of all the troops by General Wool and also during their stay 
General McClellan's army of 125,000 marched by on their 
way to Yorktown. Speaking of the stay at Fort Monroe, 
Captain Russell v/rites: "This was one of the most trying 
times for the battery. We were all anxious to get to the 
front somewhere and while encamped here, along came the 
Army of the Potomac on the way to Yorktown. Day after 
day a continuous stream of men and batteries passed us 
calling to us 'Come on, get into the swim with us.' " 

While here the battery had an opportunity to compete 
with one of the regulars in target practise. "Several Con- 
federate steamers, the Merrimac among them, came out of 
Norfolk and lay in fine off Sewall's Point. The battery was 
ordered to Hampton Creek with a battery of the regular 



28 Second Massachusetts Battery 

army on the left. About 4 p. m. the Merrimac moved a little 
nearer and fired at the Union steamer Naugaiuck, but burst 
a gun and fell back disabled. The regular battery fired a 
few shot at her but fell short two miles. The right section 
of our battery fired at an elevation of 30° by sinking the trail 
in the ground, the first shot bursting just on the other side 
of the Merrimac — a distance of four and one-half miles. We 
received much praise for our gunnery." Diary, W. G. Hidden. 

"The next day we trained a gun on Sewall's Point and 
fired a shell. It went so close to the far-away beach that 
Captain Nims said 'Give her a httle more elevation.' We 
dug the hole a little deeper, put her muzzle a httle higher and 
the captain's next shell landed plumb on the point. That 
was five miles away." 

To quote again from Captain Russell: "Our stay in the 
vicinity of Fort Monroe was about seven weeks. During 
that time we had seen much and done little so that when 
the old ship DeWitt Clinton reported as ready to bear us to 
the Southland for more active service we were all glad. But 
the loading of all our horses on the ship and placing them in 
stalls below deck was no small job. Then came the guns 
and carriages, ammunition, forges, etc. But at last all was 
ready and as we sailed past the capes and the old ship headed 
southward we felt that at last we were off for the place await- 
ing us where we could do something for the integrity of our 
country and its flag. Our voyage was a pleasant one, no 
sickness of a serious character, the men cheerful and spend- 
ing much time in making souvenirs of the voyage out of 
anything at hand. One thing did occur which made a lasting 
impression on the minds of those who witnessed it. Our 
ship was to report at Ship Island for further orders. After 
we had rounded Cape Florida one night, with our good ship 
under full sail and a free wind, the cry came from the lookout, 
'Rocks ahead.' All of us who were on deck and those who 
could quickly reach it saw on each side of the bow of the 



Second Massachusetts Battery 29 

ship and not far distant towers of rocks. No time was loft 
to turn the ship to right or left, and so the man at the wheel 
could do nothing but let her go straight ahead. We braced 
ourselves for the expected shock, that would send us all to 
a watery grave. Seconds seemed hours. As we passed the 
rocks it seemed that one could throw a stone and hit them 
on either side. No shock came. Our sliip went through 
into open water, she was rounded up into the wind, sails 
clewed up and anchor let go and we all breathed again. 
When morning came we found that our navigator had made 
a great mistake in his calculations and we had been j)iloted 
in safety through Dead Men's Keys. By whom? By God, 
in whose service we were. With grateful hearts we sailed 
away and reached Ship Island without further incident." 

Ship Island was reached on the 14th after a passage of 
twenty-two days. A letter from Thomas N. Palmer written 
the following day: 

"W^e have had a very pleasant voyage, no serious storm 
since we left Fort Monroe — a good steady old ship. The 
boys are all in good spirits and ready for anything. This war 
is fast drawing to a close and we shall soon be traveling 
north." Of the 134 horses belonging to the battery only 
four died on the trip, a rather unusual record at that time. 
As the government valued each horse reaching Ship Island 
at $700 this was regarded as a decidedly favorable passage 
from a financial point of view. 

At Ship Island news was received of the taking of New 
Orleans two weeks before and the battery proceeded at once 
up the Mississippi arriving at New Orleans on the mornmg 
of May 24 and camping at the Pelican Cotton Press. It was 
now assigned to General WilUams' Brigade and in less than 
a week ordered on board the steamers Burton and Diana for 
Baton Rouge where it arrived on June 1. "Here we found 
our old Eastern Shore comrades, the 4th Wisconsin and 6th 
Michigan regiments, who greeted us w4th hearty cheers and 



30 Second Massachusetts Battery 

still more to the point furnished us with hot coffee." During 
this time the men were sent on scouting expeditions capturing 
some prisoners, seizing everything of value and burning 
some of the plantations which served as Confederate strong- 
holds. On one of these expeditions the left section together 
with the 30th Massachusetts and two companies of the 4th 
Wisconsin captured 40,000 lbs. of sugar, molasses, cattle, 
sheep, mules, and wagons, and took prisoners one lieutenant 
and four privates. 

The battery now prepared to join in the expedition against 
Vicksburg and on the 22d of June landed at Ellis Cliff in 
order to dislodge a hostile force that had fired the day before 
on the Union transports passing up the river. After a seven 
miles' march through the woods the enemy's camp was 
reached where fires were burning and beans boiling but the 
occupants had left in a hurry. The captain of the band was 
however captured in his carriage. Two days later a similar 
movement was made at Grand Gulf where the Confederates 
were driven from their position, five prisoners taken and the 
town and railroad destroyed. Under the date June 24, 
"3 A. M. Steamers with infantry and battery on board sailed 
up a bayou to get in the rear of Grand Gulf. 10 a, m. Landed 
at Berry's Plantation. Formed line of march, 4th Wisconsin 
and right half of battery in advance. Marched two miles 
and found a small force of the enemy in the woods who fired 
on our infantry. Colonel Paine ordered the right piece to 
the front. He did not have to wait long for my horses were 
ready for a jump. We soon reached the woods, fired a few 
shots at the enemy who saved thjemselves by getting on 
board a train and steaming away. Fired at train and struck 
the rear car completely shattering it. Marched five miles, 
found enemy's camp on fire vacated an hour previous. Then 
into Grand Gulf where we burned every building and de- 
stroyed the railroad track." J. S. Knowlton. 

Two days later the expedition arrived at Point de Soto, 



Second Massachusetts Battery 31 

three miles below Vicksburg, where the battery was first 
under fire and had its first lesson in real fighting. Tlie 
occasion for this was incidental to the passage of Farragiit's 
fleet up the river. Farragut had received most urgent letters 
from the Navy Department urging upon him the clearing 
of the Mississippi, Vicksburg being then the only point in 
the possession of the Confederates. Although he felt that 
it was impossible to take the city without a large land force, 
he prepared at once to make the attempt. Sending on in 
advance a flotilla of mortar boats under Commander D. D. 
Porter he followed with his fleet of three ships and seven 
gunboats accompanied by ten transports carrying General 
Wilhams' Brigade of four regiments and two batteries — the 
2d and the 6th Massachusetts. 

To quote from J. S. Knowlton's diary: "Our mortar boats 
commenced bombarding the city of Vicksburg at 4 p. m. 
We were ordered around the backside of the woods so as to 
get unperceived to the nearest point to Vicksburg. We 
marched over five miles and came to a halt on the railroad 
about three quarters of a mile from the point where we were 
to go into action. Here we dismounted and slept by our 
horses until the mortar boats began firing which was a signal 
for us to ^art. The firing soon became very severe, which 
indicated that the fleet had started. We pushed do^\^l the 
railroad, shot and shell falhng thick and fast all around us, 
cutting off trees and plowing the soil at an enormous rate. 
We soon reached the shore and concentrated our whole fire 
upon three batteries of the enemy's right wing. Their 
batteries could be seen blazing from all points of the city. 
We made some good shots, putting our shell plumb withm 
the enemy's works. They kept up a continual firing on our 
fleets sending their shots with great rapidity. At o p. m., 
the fleet having passed, we were ordered back to camp, havmg 
been engaged an hour and a half. Not a man in our com- 



32 Second Massachusetts Battery 

pany was injured in the whole engagement and only one horse 
was hit." 

Another member of the battery writes: "Probably few 
grander sights were to be had dm-ing the war than we saw 
that morning as Farragut in the Hartford, just going enough 
to prevent the current getting the better of him, led his fleet 
of wooden vessels through that deluge of shot and shell." 
S. P. Skilton. 

At an inspection the next afternoon. Captain Nims said 
that Commodore Farragut expressed much pleasure at the 
performance of the battery and the aid it had rendered and 
stated that it was the hottest fire he was ever under. The 
only part taken by the land forces in this expedition was by 
the two Massachusetts batteries. 

A few days later the fleet passed back down the river 
under a heavy fire from Vicksburg and remained for some 
time in the vicinity of the city. 

^Before Vicksburg the river made one of those gigantic 
bends for which it is famous. For three miles it flowed 
directly toward the city and then bending suddenly flowed 
in an exactly opposite direction. Between these lines lay a 
peninsula scarcely a mile wide. When following the course 
of the stream, a vessel going up or down the river was under 
fire of the batteries for a distance of six miles. It was thought 
that if a canal be dug across this peninsula the current of 
the river might wear a channel by which boats could pass 
leaving them exposed for only one mile. Accordingly General 
WilHams was commissioned to gather a force of negroes 
from the surrounding plantations to carry out this enter- 
prise. Some 1500 were brought in and set to work, but the 
plan did not succeed. The position was not well chosen 
and before the work was completed the river rose suddenly 
and destroyed all that had been accomplished. 

It was now evident that while it was possible to send a 

»See The Mississippi, J. V. Greene. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 33 

fleet up the river if necessary, Vicksburg could not he taken 
without a land force of 12,000 to 15,000 men. Accordingly, 
on July 24, Farragut's fleet, together with the transports 
bearing General Williams' Brigade, started down tlii' river 
leaving Vicksburg entirely free. General Williams and his 
troops debarked at Baton Rouge for the purpose of per- 
manently occupying it. 

Of this entire mo vement Irwin say s : "No casualties occurred 
but the troops returned July 26 to Baton Rouge after having 
for more than three months undergone hardships such as 
have seldom fallen to the lot of soldiers in a campaign whose 
existence is scarcely known and whose name is well nigh 
forgotten. 

During the stay near Vicksburg many of the men contracted 
fever and on July 19 occurred the first death among the mem- 
bers of the battery — that of Theodore H, Price of Boston. 
Others followed in quick succession until by August 8, six 
of the battery had fallen victims to the soldier's worst foe, 
disease. These were: Theodore H. Price, died July 19; 
J. S. Haven, died July 31; Alvin Lovejoy, died August 2; 
Cyrus Davidson, died August 5; E. L. Leavitt, died August 
5; M. F. Tate, died August 8. 

Nor was this all, for at the grand review and inspection by 
General Williams on July 31, of the 140 members of the 
battery only 21 were present for duty, the remainder, includ- 
ing Captain Nims himself, being in the hospital. The same 
condition naturally prevailed among the other members of 
the brigade, one regiment (the 7th Vermont) mustering 
but 48 men and other regiments averaging 150; so that not 
one half of the entire number was reported as ready for 
service. 

When this state of affairs was made known to Major Van 
Dorn of the Confederate Army, he organized an expedition 
to capture the post. It was composed of about 5000 men 
under Gen. J. C. Breckenridge who expected to be aided in 



34 Second Massachusetts Battery 

his endeavor by the ram Arkansas. With his entire force 
moving along the two roads that enter Baton Rouge 
from the southwest he made a vigorous attack in the early 
morning of August 5. Wilhams was expecting the attack 
(we read in the diary of one of the men that the horses had 
been standing in harness three days and three nights), and 
had arranged his forces to meet it. His army, depleted as it 
was by sickness, numbered only £500 effective men. He 
posted the 4th Wisconsin on Bayou Gros on the extreme left, 
with a portion of Manning's Battery in the arsenal grounds 
on its left. On the right of that regiment was the 9th Con- 
necticut with four of Manning's guns in the cemetery. To 
the left of Greenwell Springs Road was the 14th Maine and 
next came the 21st Indiana with four guns of Everett's 
Battery. The 6th Michigan was posted across the country 
road with two guns. In the rear of the last two was the 7th 
Vermont, and at the extreme right was the 30th Massachusetts 
supporting Nims ' Battery.^ 

Owing to the illness of Captain Nims, First Lieutenant 
Trull was in command, while to take the place of the men 
in the hospital a detail of thirty men had been secured from 
the 9th Connecticut so that when the battle opened the six 
guns were manned. 

The conflict lasted from four to nine o'clock, a period of five 
hours, and throughout the entire battle Nims' Battery won 
the highest commendation for efficient service. Perhaps 
nothing could give a better account of what it accomplished 
than the Official Report of Colonel Dudley:* "I imme- 
diately ordered Nims' Battery under the command of the 
brave and efficient First Lieutenant Trull, to the left and 
considerably to the front so as to clear the thick woods in 
its front. This battery went into action within 250 yards of 
a Kentucky regiment sheltered by a fence and a cornfield, 

« See Lossing's History of the Civil War. 
* OS. Rep., Vol. 15, p. 39. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 35 

where it remained doing excellent service until ordered to 
change position. Officers and men could not have behaved 
better. More coolness could not have been expected from 
veterans than the officers and men of tliis battery disjjlayed. 
They changed position four times under my own observation 
and on each occasion the gallant commander displayed his 
competency for the prominent part he acted in this severest 
part of the field. ... At one time the undaunted 
Trull with his battery was hotly engaged on the right with a 
full battery of the enemy which had approached within 150 
yards (supposed to have been the celebrated Simmes' Bat- 
tery), but the 6th Michigan moved up to the support of Nims' 
Battery in elegant order. Its assistance came most fortu- 
nately for it was clear the enemy intended to outflank us at 
this point. ... At this juncture of the conffict I ordered 
Lieutenant Trull to fire his three left pieces across the fronts 
of the Indiana 21st, Massachusetts 30th, and 7th Vermont. 
This was the turning point of the right wing. The galling 
fire of canister effectually silenced the enemy's fire and they 
retreated to the rear." 

At one time the guns became so hot that it was impossible 
to use them and it became necessary to wait. While water 
was being brought to cool them a fierce attack was made by 
the enemy, but proved unsuccessful. 

"At another time the enemy advanced bearing the Stars 
and Stripes until they were within 25 yards of the battery 
who supposed them to be their own men, but soon their 
artillery and infantry opened a tremendous fire, too high, 
however, to do much, damage. In an instant the guns were 
discharged and the enemy mowed dowTi like grass, the first 
fire killing over 100. Great cheers and praises for Nims' 
boys could be heard all over the battlefield." Diary of 
J. S. Knowlton. 

A correspondent of the Boston Journal gives the following 
description of the battle. 



36 Second Massachusetts Battery 

"Two highways run out of Baton Rouge — one above and 
one below, — on each side of the town; about a mile and a half 
a road cuts these two roads at right angles, while extending 
from road to road is a large cemetery, facing towards the 
city and looking directly into the camps of the Indiana, 
Massachusetts, and Connecticut regiments. The front 
of this cemetery is fenced with paling, while the cemetery 
is thickly strewn with large tombs and overgrown with high 
rank weeds. This was the position of the rebel center. Our 
center was composed of the Indiana 21st, the Massachusetts 
and Connecticut, drawn up on the opposite side of the roads, 
and not more than forty-five rods distant. The rebel right 
approached through corn-fields and over a rolhng country, 
attacked with great impetuosity the 14th Maine's camp and 
drove them out, burning and pillaging the camp in a few 
minutes. The 14th Maine rallied, and, supported by the 
Massachusetts and Nims' Battery, returned to the attack 
and drove the enemy back with great slaughter. 

"The fiercest part of the conflict, at this tide of the battle, 
occurred before and within a house which the rebels obsti- 
nately determined to get possession of. The most con- 
spicuous of the rebels at this place was a huge negro, armed 
and equipped with musket, knapsack and uniform; he led 
the rebels, and met his death at the hands of one of our men. 
Pressed back by our left, and our ground regained, the battle 
raged in front with desperate fierceness. So silently did 
the rebels approach, and so well were they concealed, that 
they were in the cemetery and drawn up in battle array with- 
out our knowing it. With a yell they rushed up to the fence, 
dashed through it and across the road, bearing everytliing 
before them. At one time the opposing forces were hand 
to hand, and our handful of men were driven out of their 
camps and back into the town; but, rallied on every hand 
by their officers, and the cool daring of General Williams, 
assisted by the gunboats that began to fire shell on each 



Second Massachusetts Battery 37 

bank with perfect accuracy and deadly effect, our troops 
bravely rushed to the front and drove the entire rebel center, 
back across the road, into and beyond the cemetery, from 
which they were not again able to emerge." 

From a description of the battle given by a soldier who was 
in the fight, we extract the followang: 

^"The 14th Maine, 21st Indiana and 6th Wisconsin were 
the first regiments engaged. They held in check about eight 
thousand Confederates for about one hour, when they were 
forced back a quarter of a mile, the Confederates occupying 
their camps, which they destroyed. On account of a heavy 
fog, the 7th Vermont, 9th Connecticut and 4th Wisconsin 
were not able to ascertain the exact position of the enemy, 
and were of but very little service until the new line was 
formed. ^Captain Nims, Captain Everett, and the battery 
on the right, and two pieces of the 4th Massachusetts on the 
extreme left, opened a murderous fire from their batteries, 
which was returned with spirit by the Confederates. The 
battle raged without a moment's intermission, and with 
great severity for two hours. During this time nothing but 
a continual roar of artillery, the rattle of musketry, the shouts 
of the combatants and the groans of the wounded and dying 
was to be heard. Captain Nims' Battery was compelled 
to fall back, his guns being so hot it was impossible to use 
them. 

"He took his position on the left of the 21st Indiana, and 
ordered water to be brought to cool his guns. While thus 
engaged, three regiments of the Confederates charged the 
21st Indiana, and one regiment charged the battery. General 
Williams, perceiving the perilous position of the regiment, 
and knowing the consequences of having the center' broken, 
took his position at the head of the regiment, and gave the 

6 Putnam's Record of the Rebellion, Vol. 5, p. 307. 

6 This is e\adently incorrect as Captain Nims was in the hospital and 
Lieutenant Trull in charge. 



38 Second Massachusetts Battery 

command to prepare to charge. The regiment fired three 
volleys (the battalion having breech-loading rifles), and 
allowed the Confederates to approach within a few rods. 
General Williams then gave the command: 'Forward! double 
quick !' and with a deafening cheer they rushed to the charge. 
The shock of two such masses advancing shook the entire 
field. 

"The struggle was fierce and the slaughter heavy. Four 
times the rebels made desperate efforts to come from among 
the tombs and cross the road, but were driven back each 
time, and finally they retreated in full panic. 

"On our right, in the meantime, the rebels, under General 
Clarke, made a desperate effort to flank us and get in our 
rear. It was here that the admirable generalship of Williams 
displayed itself. Anticipating this very movement, he had 
placed Manning's battery of six pieces, supported by the 
Wisconsin and Vermont regiments, while the Michigan 
Regiment was strongly posted at the crossing of the roads and 
commanding the entire approach of the enemy's left. Here 
the battle raged fiercely; and after the rebels' flank movement 
was repulsed and driven back, not to return, here it was that 
the gallant general fell, at the head of the Indiana and Mich- 
igan regiments, but not before victory had lighted up that 
fine manly face with its glow of triumph. 

"This was the signal for a general onset on both sides. 
Captain Nims lost two of his guns, but charged with his 
sabres and revolvers and retook them. The 21st Regiment 
repulsed three times their own numbers, and drove them 
back in confusion. I was at this time detached with the 
first platoon of our company (4th Regiment Wisconsin), 
to skirmish on the extreme left of the line, to prevent a sur- 
prise on our flank. I took a position one mile outside the 
old picket lines, in true Yankee style, behind stumps and 
trees. The rebels did not think it safe to honor us with a 
shot. We were fired at, however, by some of our pickets, 



Second Massachusetts Battery 39 

who were driven in from the front, they mistaking us for 
rebels. They also reported us to the gunboat Essex as 
rebels, and she commenced shelling our lines. The rebels 
were forced back a mile and a half." 

In General Butler's General Orders we find the following 
eulogy of General WiUiams: "A gallant general, an accom- 
pUshed officer, a pure patriot and victorious hero and a 
devoted Christian. In choosing his position for the battle 
he gave up the vantage of the cover of the houses of the 
city, forming his lines m the open field lest the women and 
children of his enemies suffer in the fight." 

In another report'' honorable mention is made of Sergeant 
Cheever, Privates Tyler and Clogston for the skiU and brav- 
ery with which they worked one of the guns when almost m 
the hands of the enemy, they having left sick beds m order 

to do their duty. . 

The courage and steadfastness of the Union troops is al 
the more remarkable when we remember that as Weitzel 
says- "None of our men had been m battle and few had been 
under fire. The entire Union loss in this battle was reported 
as 77 killed and 240 wounded. Of this number the battery 
lost four wounded, one detailed from the 9th Connecticut 
receivmg a mortal wound, and one man was captured. ^ 

When the conflict was over. General Butler said: Nims 
Battery saved the day," and Breckenridge h^msel was 
heard to remark: "If it had not been for that Light ArtiUery 
in front, I would have taken the place, I charged it three 
times, but was knocked back every time." Boston Journal 
Breckenridge had made a speech to his men eariy that 
morning promising them to have his band playmg in the state 

house by nine o'clock. • i 4. u^ rv^n^^ to 

It was expected that another attempt might be made to 

regain Baton Rouge, as a few days after the battle a flag^f 

truee came in from the Confederates ordermg General Fame, 

70£E. Rec, Vol. 15, p. 46. 



40 Second Massachusetts Battery 

the Union leader, to withdraw his forces. Preparations 
were immediately made for the defense of the city; all 
public buildings were burned and trees cut down that might 
interfere with the range of the guns. The men of the battery 
lay by their guns all night, but the next morning it was found 
that the enemy had retreated, burning their bridges behind 
them. A few days later Breckenridge marched his troops 
to Port Hudson, thirty miles above and began there the 
construction of heavy batteries. 

Soon after the Union forces left Baton Rouge, and on 
August 21 the entire command left for New Orleans. The 
battery first camped at Carrollton but changed the next 
day to Materia Ridge where it joined the brigade under 
Colonel Dudley consisting of 30th Massachusetts, 4th Wis- 
consin, 21st Indiana, 6th Michigan, 7th Vermont, 14th 
Maine, 9th Connecticut, 2d, 4th and 6th Massachusetts 
batteries and 21st Indiana Battery. 

The location did not prove healthful, however, and a week 
later camp was once more changed to Tivoli Circle, New 
Orleans. 

On August 22 Privates Lombard and Barnes died at St. 
James Hospital. Indeed, sickness followed the battery and 
in every record we read: "Have been in hospital two weeks." 
"Came to hospital to-day." "Two more men on the sick list." 
In the month of October eleven members, some of whom had 
been in the hospital for weeks were discharged and came 
home. During the stay in New Orleans, however, the men 
began to regain their health. 

The time from August to December was spent largely in 
drilling, a parade and some form of drill constituting a part 
of each day's duty. Inspection of men and quarters was 
common and some will doubtless remember an acting inspec- 
tor general who ordered Corporal to get his hair cut, 

much to the amusement of the boys as said corporal wore a 
wig. On Thanksgiving Day some of the men fought off 



Second Massachusetts Battery 41 

the pangs of homesickness by preparing a grand dinner. 
"The best I've eaten since I left home," while others in the 
evening gave a grand ball where the music consisted of three 
violins, a cornet and a banjo. 

About this time Lieutenant Trull left to take command of 
the 4th Massachusetts Battery, Second Lieutenant Marland 
was advanced to First, and First Sergeant Edw. K. Russell of 
Chelsea was commissioned to fill the vacant second lieutenancy. 
On September 8 the death of J. K. Harvey was reported. 

General Banks having succeeded General Butler on Decem- 
ber 16 in command of the Department of the Gulf, the troops 
in Louisiana were organized as the 19th Army Corps com- 
posed of four divisions and Nims' Battery was assigned to 
the fourth division commanded by Gen. Cuvier G rover and 
ordered to report at Baton Rouge. Here it remained until 
March 13, spending much time in drill — drilling on pieces, 
as cavalry and with flying movements, and occasionally 
doing picket duty. 

"At this time, while some of our men were acting as pickets 
several miles outside the town, an incident occurred that, 
had it taken place in the North would have been called 'a 
Yankee trick,' but as it is we disclaim it, and let our Southern 
brother have all the honor (?) Some of our men were 
acting as mounted pickets, and as they sat upon their horses 
looking up the road, and listening for the footfall of horse or 
man, a sharp sound of a bell came from the thick timber 
land on their side and quickly their ears were open and with 
eager eyes they sought to fathom the cause of the sounds, 
when tinkle-tinkle-tinkle came the sounds again and as it 
fell upon the ears of our men it took them back to their 
boyhood days when sent for the cows. They listened for 
the welcome sound of tinkle-tinkle-tinkle. Oh it is only an 
old cow in the brush: but they soon learned from the bul- 
lets' whiz that they had better be moving, and they did." 
Captain Russell. 



42 Second Massachusetts Battery 

On another occasion Sergeant Lincoln and Privates Carter 
and Wilkins were on picket duty on the Port Hudson Road. 
Lincoln and Carter were fired on, their horses killed and 
Carter badly wounded. He dragged himself through the 
woods to a house where he was put into a wagon and brought 
to camp. Lincoln was stripped of his equipments and let 
go. 

The records during this period show that a soldier's life 
meant good hard work — even if fighting was not going on. 
Battery drill, gun drill, marcliing drill — all these filled the 
days and brought the battery to the highest degree of efficiency. 
One drill consisted of flying movements, dismounting and 
mounting guns and carriages, slinging guns under the limber, 
etc., and was nicknamed by the boys "break-neck drill." 
Accidents were rare, however. Captain Nims invented new 
signals for the use of his men so that the enemy might not 
know what orders were being given. Washington's Birth- 
day was observed by a grand artillery review by Captain 
Closson, chief of artillery, and by raising a large flag across 
the camp ground. 

The most important duty entrusted to General Banks at 
this time was an advance up the Mississippi against Port 
Hudson, cooperating with Grant in his movement against 
Vicksburg. Bank's force, however, was not strong enough 
to carry the works and he therefore turned his attention 
to reducing the fortification by other means. 

^Port Hudson drew its supplies mainly from Western 
Louisiana and Texas by way of the Red River. If this river 
could be reached and held, these supplies could be cut off 
and communication could be opened with Grant near Vicks- 
burg. The Confederates held Alexandria as their chief 
point of defense but they extended their outposts as far as the 
railroad from New Orleans to Brashear City. Another 
earthwork known as Fort Bisland was on the Bayou Teche 

sSee The Mississippi: F. V. Greene. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 43 

and reached to tlie swamps south of the bayou. All this 
territory for 50 miles west of the Missississippi is an impassa- 
ble network of swamps and lakes, but there is a road from 
Brashear City to Alexandria and along this road lay the 
line of advance to Red River. Early in January expeditions 
had been organized for the purpose of moving up Red River 
but it had been found impossible to make a way through 
the swamps and bayous, and it was thought necessary to 
abandon the project. About this time information was 
received that the Confederates had captured on Red River 
the ram Queen of the West, and the gunboat De Soto which 
had run past the batteries at Vicksburg and descended the 
river. 

Farragut determined at once to patrol the river above 
Port Hudson with his vessels and requested Banks to make 
a demonstration against the fortification while he ran past 
the batteries. 

Banks having assembled his forces at Baton Rouge, on 
March 13 the whole force broke camp and marched toward 
Port Hudson, the right and center sections with the divisions 
of Generals Grover and Emery on the Port Hudson Road and 
the left with General Auger's division on the Clinton Road. 
The next day Farragut with his fleet started up the river. 
The land forces did not get near enough to the works to use their 
artillery verj^ effectively, though one section of the 2d Massa- 
chusetts was sent within shelling distance of the Confederate 
works and fired 50 round of shell into them. 

We quote the following from an article in the Boston 
Journal written by C. B. Maxwell. 

"The army having halted and camped for the night the 
sergeants of the first and third detachments came to our 
quarters and quietly told the drivers and cannoneers not 
to 'turn in.' 'You will be wanted before midnight,' they 
said. 'We are going out on the road and we may have some 
fun.' So about 10 p. m. we were told in whispers to 'hitch 



44 Second Massachusetts Battery 

up,' When all was ready, the section moved out giving the 
rest of the battery the 'grand sneak' as it were. Lieutenant 
Marland was in command I think. Well, we arrived at a 
certain point on the road and having passed through the 
woods were ordered to halt, unlimber and go into battery. 
Said the Ueutenant to the guide: 'Where is Port Hudson?' 
'Right ober dar,' was the reply. '"Which way is that?' 
'Right ober dat away.' 'How far is it?' 'Oh right 
smart aways. I done walk plumb down to de ribber from 
break o'day to sun-up.' 

"The gunners elevated the pieces and each fired a few shots, 
after which all was still and dark as before. The only loud 
words spoken were the lieutenant's when he shouted: 'How 
do you like that.' Echo answered, 'Where are we at?' 
Then we limbered up, thinking of our tents and stole away 
back to camp and turned in. In the morning orders to hitch 
up were received and the column was soon on the march to 
Baton Rouge. So we claim that Nims' Battery fired the 
first shot at Port Hudson." 

Meanwhile Farragut advanced with his fleet amid a perfect 
deluge of shot and shell. Two of his ships, the Hartford 
and the Albatross were able to pass the batteries, but all the 
others were sunk or disabled. Although so many met with 
disaster, Farragut's purpose was fully accomplished, for 
the Red River route was hence forward completely blockaded 
— a most important object at that time. 

As the object of Banks' land expedition had been solely for 
the purpose of making a demonstration while the fleet was en 
route he immediately returned with his forces to Baton 
Rouge. He himseK went on to New Orleans, leaving orders 
that another attempt be made to resume the movement to 
Brashear City. 

Accordingly, on the 27th of March the command was taken 
by transport Laurel Hill to Donaldsonville, whence it marched 
over-land to Brashear City, the trip beginning the 31st and end- 



Second Massachusetts Battery 45 

ing the 9th of April. On this marcli the battery formed u i)art 
of the 2d Brigade,Colonel Kimball, in General G rover's di\ision. 
Here it united with the rest of the Army of the Gulf for opera- 
tions against the ene^y who were threatening New Orleans 
from the rear, the whole numbering about 17,000 men. 

^On the morning of the 11th of April the bkttery with 
General Grover's division started from Brashear City and 
proceeded up the Atchafalaya River. The intention of this 
expedition was to get in the rear of the enemy and either 
attack them there or cut off their retreat. The grounding 
of one of the transports at the entrance of Grand Lake 
delayed the troops for twenty-four hours but on the 13th a 
landing was made opposite Madame Porter's plantation 
thirty miles from Brashear City. Wliile effecting a landing 
about 250 Confederates with two pieces of artillery opened 
fire and a sharp skirmish ensued in which the Union men took 
quite a number of prisoners. 

The next day, shortly after daylight, the division again 
advanced and early in the morning met a strong force of the 
enemy at Irish Bend, a sharp bend in the Teche. Here a 
battle took place and after two hours' fighting the enemy 
was obliged to retreat leaving many dead on the field and 
about 100 prisoners. For the next few days an advance was 
made, constant skirmishing going on all the while until on 
April 17 we find the battery at New Iberia. Here the left 
section under Lieutenant Snow, together with three regiments 
marched twelve miles farther to Avery's Island, destroyed the 
famous salt works there and captured a large number of 
horses. The destruction of these salt works was a very 
important measure, as from them the Confederates had been 
able to obtain thousands of pounds of salt, thus making them 
independent of the United States or England. 

The next morning the march was renewed. Generals 
Emery and Weitzel on the Bayou Road, General G rover 

8 See Off Record, Vol. 15, Report General Grover. 



46 Second Massachusetts Battery 

on the other. At Vermillion Bayou the enemy, who was 
only a short distance in advance, massed in a strong position 
on the opposite bank, fired on the Union troops from the 
woods, opening with artillery. Nims' Battery and Battery L 
of the regulars joined in the artillery duel, forcing the enemy 
to retire, but not until they had burned the bridge over the 
bayou. The next day the bridge was rebuilt and the advance 
continued until on April 20 Opelousas was reached. 

While here orders were read from General Banks giving 
the troops much credit for capturing over 2000 prisoners, 10 
guns, assisting in the destruction of two gunboats and two 
transports, the salt works and one fort and also in seizing a 
large quantity of arms and equipments, sugar, cotton, molasses, 
mules, horses, etc. 

At this time, too, one section of the battery under Lieutenant 
Snow was detached from the main body and for about a 
month served under Colonel Chickering in connection with 
the 5th Massachusetts, 41st Massachusetts, 4th Maine, 
and a New York regiment. The work done is summarized 
as follows: "There was collected and sent to New Orleans 
via Brashear upward of 6000 bales of cotton, large quantities 
of sugar, molasses, and other products and at least 10,000 
contrabands, men, women, and children to work in the govern- 
ment plantations in LaFourcheCo." Irwin says :^° "The column 
covered in the march the long train that stretched out for 
eight miles over the prairies with a motley band of negroes, 
horses, and beeves for a cumbrous accompaniment. With 
the possible exception of the horde that set out to follow 
Sherman's march to the sea, this was the most curious column 
ever put in motion since that which defiled after Noah into 
the ark." 

On April 22 the right and left sections with the First Bri- 
gade, General Dwight, pushed forward through Washington 
to the Tableau River where they rebuilt a bridge which had 

»" Nineteenth Army Corps, p. 136. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 47 

been burned. During the day there was a slight skirmish 
with the cavalry. In C. B. Maxwell's diary we read: "Our 
battery with General Dwight's Brigade. Joe Knowlton and 
I crossed river to plantation owTied by a widow and obtained 
Some milk and two dozen eggs. Just then the enemy's 
force fired on our cavalry pickets, killing one and wounding 
several. Joe and I started on double quick each with one 
dozen eggs in a handkerchief. Reached camp without losing 
or breaking one!" 

On the 4th of May the whole army started for Alexandria. 
"Captain Dw^ight of General Banks' staff rode past the 
brigade with orders and when just in front of the battery he 
was fired on from across the bayou and killed. A company 
of cavalry was sent out in pursuit and succeeded in capturing 
the man who committed the deed. Three days later he was 
brought before the brigade and shot." 

May 12 Alexandria was reached and after a few days' 
rest a start was made for Port Hudson by way of Simsport 
and Bayou Sara. 

Port Hudson was situated on a high bluff on the east side 
of the Mississippi at a sharp bend. Its fortifications were 
arranged for defense, the parapets averaging a thickness of 
20 feet and the depth of the ditch below the parapet being 
not less than 15 feet. Below the landing known as Hickey's 
were the first batteries, on a bluff about 40 feet above high- 
water mark. Three series of batteries extended along the 
river for a continuous line of three miles. Above the creek 
was an impassable marsh. From the lower battery ran a 
line of land fortifications semi-circular in form and about ten 
miles in extent." 

The Confederate forces numbered probably about 7000, 
the Union forces something over 30,000. General Banks' 
troops w^ere commanded by Generals Weitzel, Auger, Grover, 

" See Lossing's History of CivU War. 



48 Second Massachusetts Battery 

and T. W. Sherman, while the Confederate garrison was under 
Gen. Frank T. Gardner. 

The following extracts will show how the battery was 
engaged for the next few weeks. 

May 24. Arrived at Bayou Sara at 3 a. m. Marched 13 
miles toward Port Hudson. General Grover's division took 
first line of rifle pits. Army then formed around Port Hud- 
son with Generals Weitzel and Paine on right, General 
Grover and Colonel Dudley in center and Generals Auger and 
T. W. Sherman on the left. The artillery brigade under 
command of General Arnold. 

May 25. Battery ordered to relieve Battery L at the 
front. 

May 26. At noon both sections fell back a half mile and 
went into camp to rest the horses, they having been in har- 
ness four days and four nights. 

Banks was informed that the Confederates were with- 
drawing from the post and accordingly orders were given for 
a general assault. On the morning of May 27 the artillery 
opened upon the garrison, and continued firing all day. The 
infantry and navy joined in the attack. One section of 
the battery advanced to within 700 j^ards of the enemy's 
works and silenced two of their guns, but were in turn silenced 
by the enemy. The whole assault was a disastrous failure, 
the Union lose being 293 killed and 1549 wounded. The 
nezt morning under a flag of truce there was a cessation of 
hostilities until afternoon in order to take away the dead and 
wounded. "During this intermission of hostilities the better 
part of our natures asserted itself, the Blue and the Grey 
mingled, and over the works they exchanged coft'ee, tobacco, 
bread and even souvenirs, and asked information of each 
other: as the time drew near for the opening of hostilities 
we parted as friends, cautioning each other to lie low and 
so escape each other's bullets. As I saw all this I felt that 
God must have a long hard lesson for us to learn that it was 



Second Massachusetts Battery 49 

needful that men should take each other's lives in cold blood." 
Cajpt. E. K. Russell. 

Day after day the cannon shelled the works disablinj? 
many of the enemy's guns and wearing down the men with 
fatigue and watching. 

Nims' Battery was on the field almost constantly. In 
the diary from which we have already quoted we read: 
"Remained in position all day and all night — lead from 
sharp shooters falling thick around us, reUeved at 7 p. m. 
the next day," and again: "Our section at the front all day 
and night, — kept one battery silent," and still again, 
"Stretchers are constantly at work bringing in our wounded." 
"Keep up fire day and night." "First section under 
Lieutenant Hall start out wdth brigade of cavalry under 
General Grierson, — engage in battle near CUnton. Cavalry 
out of ammunition — obliged to retreat to avoid capture, 
reached camp after march of 50 miles." At this time the 
center section which had been at Barry's Landing for some 
weeks arrived at Port Hudson bringing with them four 
recruits from Boston. 

The position of the little Union army, which did not 
number now more than 12,000 men, was becoming critical, 
hemmed in as it was by intensely hostile inhabitants, and 
the commander felt the need of a speedy reduction of the 
post. Accordingly on June 13 a general bombardment of 
two hours took place, and at 12.30 General Banks sent in a 
flag of truce calling for the surrender of the fort. General 
Gardner's reply was: "Under the present circumstances, I 
am unable to surrender." When this answer was received, 
arrangements were made for a grand storming on June 14. 
"The program of storming was sent by General Paine to all 
the officers in his command, that each might know the duty 
he had to perform, and was as follows: The 8th New Hamp- 
shire and 4th Wisconsin regiments were to act as skirmishers 
in the advance, followed three yards in the rear by the 4th 



50 Second Massachusetts Battery 

Massachusetts and 110th New York with grenades which 
were to be thrown over, the instant the skirmishers gained 
the top of the works. Next in line was the 31st Massachu- 
setts, each man carrying two bags of cotton to be thrown into 
the ditch, in order to make a road for the artillery. Then 
the 3d, 2d, and 1st brigades followed by Nims' Battery. 
At 3 A. M. the line was formed and the march begun. When 
within 20 yards of the Fort and under a hea\y cross fire the 
order was given, clear and distinct : 'Charge !' and after a long 
hard struggle the skirmishers gained the top of the works. 
Here they found bayonets and guns presented to their 
breasts, the enemy at the same time shouting : 'Surrender or 
die.' The brave soldiers looked around for their support but 
it had failed them, and forty brave boys had to surrender as 
prisoners. We remained all day under a heavy fire from the 
enemy and at 9 o'clock withdrew from the field having 
gained nothing." Knowlton' s diary. 

General Paine was wounded early in the attack, a ball 
shattering his leg. He was forced to remain on the field for 
twelve hours under a heavy fire, whi e hundreds of others 
were in like condition for twenty-four or thirty-six hours, 
until under a flag of truce they were brought forward by the 
enemy, who would not allow the Union troops to come near 
their fortifications. "It would not be just to allow this 
record to become history without mentioning the valor dis- 
played by some of the colored troops engaged with us on that 
occasion. After the assault had failed, and the ground in 
our front was strewn with our wounded comrades, these 
colored soldiers could be seen by twos crawling on their 
knees dragging after them a stretcher and on reaching a 
wounded soldier would roll him upon the stretcher, then, 
after a moment's rest, they would arise quickly and make a 
dash for a shelter from the shower of lead|that|^was sure^to 
fall around them." E. K. Russell. 

On the 16th General Banks issued an order^for a thou- 



Second Massachusetts Battery 51 

sand stormers, offering medals to the soldiers and promotions 
to the officers, and preparations were making for a third 
assault when on July 7 came the news of the surrender of 
Vicksburg. This put an end to the hopes of the Confederacy, 
and two days later Port Hudson surrendered, 6408 becoming 
prisoners of war. In addition to the important post the 
spoils of victory included two steamers, 51 pieces of artillery, 
5000 small arms and a large quantity of ammunition. 

Most important of all, the fall of these two strongholds 
gave free navigation of the Mississippi, or in the words of 
Lincoln: "The Father of Waters goes unvexed to the sea." 

Among other services rendered by Nims' Battery in this 
siege it is claimed that one of her guns had the honor of firing 
the last shot at Port Hudson and also receiving the last shot 
from that same fort. We have already told how it fired the 
first shot at this place. 

We quote from the story as told by C. B. Maxwell. 
"During the siege of Port Hudson and on the occasion of 
one of the many assaults on the fortifications by the Federal 
army, there was captured a young soldier, of the 165th New 
York Zouaves. He was a bright, active lad, and while 
captive had his eyes open to chances, especially to making 
his escape. Among the things he saw was a mill in the town 
near the river, wherein they ground all their corn, and as 
that was all they had to eat it occurred to him that it would 
be a misfortune to himself as well as to the enemy if by any 
accident that mill should be destroyed. So he paid closer 
attention then ever to getting through the lines to reach his 
regiment, where rations were better both in quality and 
quantity, and near the end of the siege he was successful. In 
relating his experience he said of the corn mill: 'If they 
hadn't had, that I should have been obliged to take my corn 

on the ear.' 

"This having been reported to headquarters. General 
Banks sent for Captain Nims and said to him : 



52 Second Massachusetts Battery 

" 'Send over a section of your battery to a point opposite 
and throw a few of those percussion shells into that mill. It 
may weaken their power of endurance. The soldier mil go 
along to point out the mill. Of course, if you draw the fire 
of those heavy batteries, you will retire and report back to 
camp.' 

"And so the first section, Lieutenant Hall commanding, 
made a night march to a boat landing some miles below, 
where a steamboat was in readiness 'to tote' us across. On 
the other side we marched up, being protected from view of 
enemy by a very high levee on that side of the river, to a 
point commanding a good view of the town opposite. Then 
all hands went to work with shovels, which we came pro- 
vided with, cutting an embrasure and space to work a gun, 
thus making a good fort, as it were, in a short time. We 
then hauled the gun up the slope into position. The men not 
engaged in working the gun were lying on the grassy slope 
of the levee watching the effect of the shell on 'the large 
building with a nearly flat roof.' The zouave was reclining 
on his side with head and shoulders exposed above the levee, 
as were the rest. 

"There had been two or three shots fired when Lieutenant 
Hall, looking through his field glass, remarked : 'Those were 
good line shots, but a little too high; just put them in on the 
ground floor.' Suddenly a puff of smoke curled up from the 
water batteries, and a 6 -inch solid shot plowed a furrow 
across the top of the levee, and to our horror and amaze- 
ment instantly killed our friend the 'Zou Zou.' We retired, 
quietly and quickly, after burying the body then and there 
making our way back by the same route by which we came, 
and took our place in line with the rest of the battery in 
time to march into Port Hudson, the surrender having been 
made that day. Negotiations to that end were going on the 
day before, while we were making the attack on the corn- 
mill, though of course unknown to us." 



Second Massachusetts Battery 53 

The 10th of July the battery was ordered on lioard the 
Laurel Hill for Baton Rouge, but on reaching the wharf found 
the steamer already overcrowded. Consequently orders 
were given to march that distance. Accordingly with nine 
other batteries and the infantry it began a tedious all night 
march, many of the men, who had been up for three nights, 
falling asleep on their horses. At Baton Rouge transports 
were taken for Donaldsonville where skirmishing was going 
on with a hostile force under Dick Taylor. Before the 
reinforcement arrived the enemy retreated, but as an attack 
was expected the right and left sections of the battery were 
immediately ordered on picket duty, where they remained 
for the next two days without, however, encountering the 
enemy. 

A stay of two weeks at Donaldsonville was followed by a 
march to Carrollton and then to New Orleans in company 
with Battery L, the 159th New York and a large wagon 
train all under command of Colonel Molineaux. This march 
was exceedingly trying on account of the excessive heat 
which exhausted the men and killed two or three horses. 

While at Donaldsonville four members of the company 
who had been taken prisoners at Brashear City, while in 
hospital there, arrived and were sent to New Orleans, being 
on parole. 

The battery arrived at New Orleans on August 5, took up 
quarters in the Mississippi Cotton Press, where it remained 
from the 6th of August to the 17th of September. 

First Lieutenant Hall having resigned, his juniors were 
promoted in turn, and First Sergeant Joseph K. Greenleaf 
of Boston was commissioned as junior second lieutenant. 
Early in October Second Lieut. Edw. K. Russell was pro- 
moted and transferred to the 6th Massachusetts Battery, 
creating a vacancy which was filled some time later by the 
commissioning of First Sergeant Lucian A. Hodgdon of 
Somerville. At the same time Gunner Swan was made 



54 Second Massachusetts Battery 

sergeant of the 2d detachment, Corporal Ellis gunner of the 
3d detachment and Private Taylor corporal of the 2d 
detachment. 

During the stay in New Orleans the battery was com- 
manded to mount as horse or flying artillery and to join the 
cavalry division of the 19th Army Corps. Associated with 
them were two other batteries, one from Missouri, and one 
from the regular army, and Captain Nims was appointed 
Chief of Artillery of the 19th Army Corps, Col. A. L. Lee, 
and was made a member of Colonel Lee's staff. 

The first parade of these batteries as horse artillery (at 
which Nims' Battery held the post of honor), took place 
September 5, and was witnessed by Generals Banks, Arnold, 
Franklin and many other officers. The following letter, 
a copy of which was found among Colonel Nims' papers, is 
a proof of their high opinion of this new organization. 

Office, Chief of Artillery. 

Hd. Qrs. Dept. of the Gulf, 
New Orleans, September 7, 1863. 
Capt. O. F. Nims, 

Chief of Artillery, 19th Army Corps. 

Sir:— 

It becomes my great pleasure to communicate to yourself 
and the batteries under your command on the 5th inst., the 
high commendation of the Commanding General of the De- 
partment of the Gulf and the Adjutant General of the United 
States Army. They were pleased to express the belief that 
no artillery in the service could be more thorough in their 
equipments and general appointments. 

Please communicate the above to each battery commander. 

Your ob'd't servant 
Very respectfully, 
Richard Arnold. 
Brig. Gen. and Chief of Artillery. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 55 

On the 17th of September another movement began 
toward the interior of Louisiana. Tlie object of this entire 
movement was to divert the enemy from Banks' expedition 
into Texas which he was about to undertake. Accordingly 
he ordered the command of wliich the batterj^ was a part to 
advance under Gen. C. C. Washburne from Brashear City 
to Opelousas, to give the impression that a march to Alexandria 
or Shreveport was begun. The battery left New Orleans 
on September 18 and the next day reached Brashear City, 
which had been evacuated by the Confederates in July after 
securing about 1000 prisoners together with suppHes valued 
at $2,000,000. A week later an advance was mad,e to Bis- 
land and then on to Opelousas, which was reached October 
24. All along the advance, skirmishing and fighting occurred 
almost every day, and in it all the battery did its part most 
creditably. At Indian Bend, October 2, the left and center 
divisions, which were in the advance, met the enemy and 
drove them back. Two days later at VermiUion Bayou the 
same sections forced the enemy once more to fall back. 
Agam the right section at Vermillion Bayou contended with 
the enemy for a ford for over three hours, driving them com- 
pletely from their position. Again we read in our diaries: 
"The right and center moved forward with the advance 
cavalry came in sight of the enemy's camp. They retired 
leaving for us a good dinner of beef steak, sweet potatoes, 
and corn cake all piping hot. Pieces of our shell picked up 
near camp fires about two miles away." Two days later, 
"Just at dusk, the enemy advanced on our pickets. A section 
of the battery was sent for, hitched up with a will, crossed 
the plains on a gallop and in 18 minutes from the time the 
first order was given we had gained the distance and com- 
menced firing. Time taken by Colonel MoHneaux." 

October 15. "The enemy came out on the open plain, 
drew themselves up in fine of battle and commenced firing on 



56 Second Massachusetts Battery 

our pickets. This battery was ordered to the front at double 
quick and at 7 a. m. we were at the extreme advance — we 
opened a heavy j&re which caused them to break for the 
woods. At 9 A. M. Captain Simmes' Battery opened on us 
from a masked position — we dismounted one gun and ex- 
ploded their ammunition chest forcing them to retreat. A 
piece of one of our shells cut off the head of one, passed through 
another and killed his horse — deadly work." 

October 21 . "6 a, m. whole force moved forward, the battery 
with advance cavalry. At 7 a. m. met the enemy in Hne of 
battle. Right section with cavalry engaged left flank while 
remaining section engaged them in front. We succeeded in 
driving them back on the flank and then in front and they 
retreated in disorder. Our troops followed to Opelousas 
when right section with cavalry branched off to Barry's 
Landing and went into camp after a hard march over 
ditches, through corn field, etc. October 28. A running 
fight for 17 miles. Center section with Grover's division at 
Opelousas." 

And so it goes day after day till Opelousas is reached, and 
on November 1 a retrograde movement is ordered. Here 
again we find the battery in the post of danger, acting often 
as rear guard, skirmishing with the enemy. 

Under the date of November 2 we read: "7 a. m. enemy 
fired on our pickets. Section ordered on the double quick 
to the front about a half mile away. We opened fire and 
after a short skirmish drove them four miles and then fell 
back slowly across the plain to djaw them into a fight. They 
followed and when withjn short range we opened on them 
with shell which broke up their line. We pursued them 
again till 4 p. m. when we gave up the chase and returned 
to camp. Generals Washburne and Burbridge were with 
us during the engagement and gave us much credit." This 
battle is known as that of Carrion Crow Bayou. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 57 

The next day. November 3, marks another occasion when 
the battery won especial honor for itself, and as we read in 
General Burbridge's report — "did more than its whole 
duty."i2 

At Grand Coteau, the Confederate forces includinf^ cavalry 
and artillery — about 5500 in number, under General Greene 
— surprised the camp and nearly captured it. The right 
under General Burbridge on whom the weight of the attack 
fell w^as almost surrounded and ruin seemed inevitable. 
The section of the battery under Lieutenant Marland was 
attacked, the enemy being in so short range that the guns 
could not be brought into action, and while part were endeav- 
oring to work the guns others were harnessing the horses. 
A desperate conflict ensued, the guns keeping up a heavy 
fire. Regiment after regiment of infantry was brought up 
as support but gave w^ay until the battery was almost sur- 
rounded. It was at last obliged to fall back, the cannoneers 
fighting their way with their revolvers; but bringing off their 
guns in triumph. Before they had retreated far they saw 
coming to their aid on the double quick General Cameron's 
Brigade of the 13th Corps. They immediately halted, got 
their guns in position and renewed the conflict, chasing the 
enemy back four miles, and securing thus a Union victory. 
When General Franklin was told of this experience he said, 
"If there is ever another opportunity of racing a section of 
Nims' Battery give it your two best regiments for support, 
for it is the finest battery in the United States." One 
historian in relating this incident says, "Nims' Battery saved 

the day." 

The following is the official report of Lieutenant Marland 
as given in Official Records, Vol. 26, p. 371. 

"Off. Records. Vol. 26. p. 361. 



58 Second Massachusetts Battery 

Bayou Bourbeau, 

Carrion Crow Bayou. 

"In pursuance to your orders I have the honor to make the 
following report of the part taken in the action at this place 
on the 3rd of November by the section under my command. 

"In obedience to orders received on the evening of the 2d of 
November I harnessed up at 4 a. m. on the 3rd, remaining 
so until 11 A. M. when I was ordered to unharness — the pickets 
firing all the while. 

At about 11.45 p. m. the firing became general. Hearing 
the cavalry buglers blow Boots and Saddles, I began to 
harness up on my own responsibility and was attacked in 
camp before I could get harnessed. The enemy being within 
400 yards of me I opened on them with canister and percus- 
sion shell which checked their advance and drove them to 
the right. I limbered to the front and advanced to the fork 
of the road which is about 100 yards. Went into battery 
and fired a few shot until my support all had left me. Find- 
ing it too warm, I limbered to the rear and moved 300 yards. 
Finding the enemy in my rear and on the right, I fired to the 
right about 50 shot and was charged on three sides. A 
regiment came up on my left as support, fired one volley and 
left. The enemy then opened two pieces of artillery on me 
at about 300 yards killing one horse and disabling one caisson 
wheel. The cavalry still advancing and no infantry to be 
seen I limbered up and started for the woods. Here I 
ordered my cannoneers to draw their revolvers and had quite 
a brisk fight. Had another horse killed, and two men missing. 
Went through the woods the enemy coming out in rear and 
front of men. As the bridges were held by the enemy, it was 
necessary to charge through, which was accomphshed, with- 
out loss. I came up to the 46th Indiana and formed on their 
right. Colonel Bringhurst told me he would support me 
and I went back through the woods with General Cameron's 
command, driving the enemy in disorder who left dead and 



Second Massachusetts Battery 59 

wounded on the field. I then returned to camp with General 
Cameron's Brigade. 

"I am sir, very respectfully, 

"Your most ob't servant, 

"Wm. Marland, 
"1st Lieut. Com. Sec. 
"Brig. Gex. Richard Arnold, 
"Chief of Artillery. Dept. Gulf.'' 

We also quote from Major General C. C. Washburnc, 

^^"The bringing off of the section of Nims' Battery, after 
the regiment sent to its support had surrendered, extorted 
the admiration of every beholder." 

In this engagement Sergeant Burwell and Private Smith 
were taken prisoners, while three horses were killed, seven 
wounded and the gun carriages damaged somewhat. 

The entire battery was brought together at Vermillion 
River and on November 2 it took a prominent part in the 
engagement at that point, — maintaining a brisk artillery 
duel with the enemy and after two hours hard fighting and 
firing 120 shell it succeeded in dri\dng them from the field. 

We quote from the diary of W. G. Hidden : 

"Right and left sections with 1300 infantry and cavalry, 
all under General Lee, started at 5 a. m. on the Opelousas 
Road? met the enemy's pickets one mile out and drove them 
before us. At 10 a. m. we arrived at the edge of a plain and 
saw the enemy drawn up in line of battle about two miles 
distant. The right section was ordered into position and 
fired twenty shell, causing them to disclose their whole force 
of about 6000. General Lee then ordered a retreat. Arriving 
at a plam outside the town, we found a brigade of infantry 
with 4th Massachusetts Battery lying low in the bushes. 
We moved our guns into the bushes just hi^h enough to con- 
ceal us from the enemy and waited. They soon formed a 

«3 Off. Records, Vol. 26, p. 358. 



60 Second Massachusetts Battery 

line of battle about 1000 yards in front. Right section 
opened fire and the first charge emptied fifteen saddles. 
Their cavalry then charged on our left. Left section engaged 
them while we engaged the front. Cavalry was forced to 
retreat. Their artillery having got into position, opened fire 
on us and did some fine shooting. Their shells burst all 
around us plowing the ground and killing some of our 
infantry, but our men escaped injury. After two hours 
fighting the enemy retreated and we returned to camp. 
This is called The Artillery Skirmish at Vermillionville." 

On November 16 the entire force started for New Iberia, 
the battery acting as rear guard and burning the bridge across 
the river after all were over. One writes : "It was a splendid 
sight to see the army form, — each part separate, and then 
unite to form a fine and move off over the prairie with bands 
playing " The next day New Iberia was reached and prep- 
arations were made for the winter. At the same time 
skirmishing was going on and many prisoners were taken. 
We read: "A small rebel force known as Camp Pratt was six 
miles out. At 1 a. m. the center section started out on one 
road to get in its rear. At 4 a. m. the right section with 
cavalry and part of Cameron's Brigade of the 13th Corps 
started on another road for the same point. Arriving at 
daybreak all made an attack on the camp and captured 175 
out of 200 — twelve of these being officers. While marching 
them into town two bands came to meet us. One was placed 
in front, the other in the rear of the prisoners, and so we 
marched through the town to the tune of our national airs." 

About this time Lieutenant Slack of Chelsea of the 13th 
Massachusetts was placed in command of the left section 
of the battery in the absence of Lieutenant Snow, who had 
gone North for recruits. Christmas Day, by exchange of 
prisoners, Sergeant Burwell and Private Smith, who had been 
taken at Grand Coteau November 3 were returned to the 



Second Massachusetts Battery Gl 

battery. "They were ragged and dirty, having had a hard 
time." 

The month of December was devoted largely to drilling. 
Recruits kept coming in and these had to be made into sol- 
diers. Captain Nims instituted a new set of bugle calls, mak- 
ing in all twenty-eight calls a day. January 1, 1864, was the 
coldest day the men had experienced since leaving home. 
Snow and rain made camp life uninviting and difHcult. Never- 
theless reenlistments were in order, and at this time several 
of the boj^s entered upon another three years' service. 

Early in the year the force was moved out to Franklin, 
half way to Brashear City, and there made winter quarters. 
The roads thither were in terrible condition — deep with nmd 
and water with a frozen crust on top, and three days were 
required to travel a distance of 23 miles. The horses were in 
poor condition from lack of hay and grain and only a limited 
supply of corn, and five died from exhaustion on this short 
trip. Here three months were spent in camp, the men taking 
possession of the cabins formerly occupied by the negroes, 
who had long since gone to the contraband camp in New 
Orleans. Much time was given to the drilling of recruits, 
while about 25 of the men who had reenlisted were given 
furloughs of 30 days. 

A copy of the program of an evening's entertainment at the 
Cooper Institute (an old cooper's shop fitted up) will doubtless 
recall pleasant memories of camp life the winter of '63-'64. 

COOPER'S INSTITUTE 
Franklin, La. 

A Grand Entertainment will be given at the above place on Friday, March 
4, 1864, by the members of Nims' Battery, under the direction of the follow- 
ing committee: A. B. Burwell, President; J. F. Robertson, Secretary: 
C. B. Maxwell, Manager. 

Committee 

W. Kane, L. W. Swan, A. N. Norcross, C. Dul)ois, \V. D. Hutls, D. 
Murray, J. S. Knowlton, H. T. Bates and W. G. Hidden. 



62 Second Massachusetts Battery 

The committee take great pleasure in amiouncing to their friends, that the 
following distinguished Artists have generously volunteered their services. 
A sufficient number of Special Police will be in attendance to enforce good 
order. ^ 

Music by Knowlton and Co.'s Military Band. 

Doors open at 6: commence at 7: terminate at 10. 

Carriages ordered at half-past 9. 



Program 



Grand Introductory Overture, 

Jig Dance, 

Sabre Exercise, 

Sparring, 

Song, The Sword of Bunker Hill, 

Dramatic Readings, 

Feet Sparring, 

Song, What a Row de dow. 

Sparring, 

A Little Spouting, 

Cane Exercise, 

Song, Virginia Rosebud, 

Sparring, 

Magic Rings, 

Song, How are you, Jeff Davis.' 

Originality, 

Sabre Exercise, 

Jig Dance, 

Dramatic Readings, 

Sparring, 

Song, Faded Flowers, 

Feet Sparring, 

Jig Dance, 

Song, 

Bayonet Exercise, 

Sparring, 

Song, I Dream of Home, 

Fancy Dance, 

Sparring, 

Grand Walk Around, 

Song, The Cove what Sprouts, 

Sparring, 



Band 

J. Comfort 

Dubois and DeFlanders 

Flemming and Frerari 

Mr. Wren 

McGrath 

Dubois and DeFlanders 

T. Kenny 

Mortimer and Baker 

Wilkinson and Ward 

Dubois and DeFlanders 

J. S. Knowlton 

Ellis and Comfort 

C. B. Maxwell 

T. Kenny 

Mr. Ward 

Dubois and DeFlanders 

Mr. Brady 

McGrath 

Connors and Baker 

J. S. Knowlton 

Dubois and LeClair 

Mr. Connor 

By the Band 

C. Dubois 

Sullivan and Raymond 

J. S. Knowlton 

C. Dubois 

McGrath and Baker 

Comfort, Kenny and Connors 

B. Connors 

Mortimer and Connors 



Second Massachusetts Battery G3 

Similar entertainments followed and were always given to 
crowded houses. 

On February 7 Lieutenant Russell received appointment 
as first lieutenant in the 6th Massachusetts Battery where he 
later received promotion to the rank of captain. During 
the same month about seventy recruits arrived from Massa- 
chusetts, so that drilling appears again as the order of the 
day. Nor was this time wasted, for it was evident that an 
army movement was soon to take place. 

Early in March preparations were made for the Red River 
campaign, the object of which was the capture of Shreveport 
on the Red River, the dispersion of the Confederates in that 
region and ultimately the recovery of Texas by the line of the 
Red River. There were serious objections to this route 
and certain precautionary measures were necessary if the 
end were to be accomplished, but these were not carried into 
execution. 

As the batterj^ was not brigaded we find it first in one 
division then another, wherever there was difficult service 
and danger to be encountered. 

The general plan was that Banks with all the forces at his 
command should march his troops over-land to Alexandria, 
there to be joined by Gen. A. J. Smith with a force of about 
10,000 men, detached from Sherman's army, who were to be 
transported up the river in company with Admiral Porter's 
fleet. At the same time it was expected that General Steele 
would cooperate in the movement with a force of about 15,000 
men. As General Banks was obUged to be in New Orleans 
at this time the arrangements for his part of the movement 
were entrusted to General Franklin. 

General Franklin's forces consisted of the entire 19th 
Army Corps and the 3d and 4th divisions of the 13th Army 
Corps, in command of General Ransom, the whole force 
numbering some 16,000, all under Major General Franklin. 
The cavalry division of the 19th Army Corps was commanded 



64 Second Massachusetts Battery 

by Gen. A. L, Lee, and to this division Nims' Battery, equip- 
ped as horse artillery, had been assigned. 

The troops were supposed to start from Franklin on the 
7th of March and arrive at Alexandria the 13th, but owing 
to some delay they were unable to leave until the 13th. On 
that day General Lee moved with his command in advance 
of the regular army. His force consisted of the 1st, 3d, 4th 
and 5th brigades of the cavalry division, Nims' Battery 
of 6 guns — ^Rawles' Battery of 4 guns — and a battery of 
mountain howitzers manned by a company of 6th Missouri 
Cavalry, all equipped as horse artillery, a total of about 
3300. There was a halt the next morning at five for an 
hour's rest and then on again. Long trying marches followed, 
23 miles one day, 30 the next, 20 the next, 30 the next until 
the 19th of March, when 33 miles were made in 12 hours. 
Although one section of the battery reached Alexandria the 
19th and another the 21st, the whole column did not arrive 
before the 25th. Here General Banks again assumed com- 
mand and three days were spent in resting, refitting, and 
issuing supplies. 

It had been intended to carry supplies the whole distance 
in the attack on Shreveport by water, but the river was so 
low that not many of the transports could pass and it was 
found necessary to establish a supply station at Alexandria, 
and a wagon train to take supplies from the vessels below to 
vessels above the rapids. To protect this, called for a force 
of about 3000 men. General Grover was placed in charge 
of this post and his division left for its defense. The troops 
on the transport were also unable to pass the rapids and were 
accordingly recalled to the Mississippi. Consequently, 
General Banks found himseK ready to move out from Alexan- 
dria with a force of only about 20,000 men, while he could 
not expect any cooperation from General Steele. Even 
at the beginning of April experts foretold the failure of the 
expedition. The march into the enemy's country began 



Second Massachusetts Battery C5 

on the 28th of March, and from that time the command was 
in active service. The Confederates constantly retreated, 
frequentl}^ stopping to skirmish, but offering no serious 
resistance. 

Natchitoches was reached on April 3, the cavalry division 
camping just outside the towm where a halt of a day or two 
was made. On the 6th the march toward Shreveport was 
begun at daylight, the battery marching in the center of the 
division as reserve artillery. In addition to the troops there 
was a train of 200 wagons carrying ten days' rations for the 
men, three days' forage, ammunition, and camp equipage. 
General Lee's orders from General Franklin w^ere "to attack 
the enemy wherever he could be found but not to bring on a 
general engagement." No enemy was seen that day. The 
next morning the march was renewed until on reaching Wil- 
son's Farm, three miles from Pleasant Hill, a considerable 
Confederate force was found posted in the woods on a hill. 
An engagement ensued between the enemy and the third 
brigade with two sections of the IVIissouri and Illinois bat- 
teries. The resistance was so strong that the 1st Brigade 
was advanced as support, and with this, two sections of Nims' 
Battery, 0\\4ng to the dense woods the battery, although 
at the front, could not go into action and was ordered into 
position with the 4th Brigade, Colonel Dudley, in line of 
battle in the rear. With the aid of the reinforcements the 
enemy was forced to retreat slowly and Colonel Lee and his 
forces bivouacked five miles beyond the battlefield. 

The next day came the terrible experience of Sabine Cross 
Roads or Mansfield as it is sometimes called, where the bat- 
tery met with disaster for the first time. 

On that day, April 8, the battery started in the advance— 
with the 1st Brigade, under Colonel Lucas, and a Brigade of 
the 4th division of the 13th Army Corps, Colonel Landram 
commanding, which had been sett forward during the night. 
Following this came the 4th Brigade Cavalry, Colonel Dudley 



66 Second Massachusetts Battery 

in command, and then the 5th Brigade, under Colonel Robin- 
son, in charge of the long wagon train and the artillery which 
was not in the front. By noon an advance had been made 
of about ten miles, the enemy contesting every foot of the 
way. The woods on each side of the road were very dense, 
which made it difficult to move in line and the marching was 
tedious and tiring to the men. Almost no water was to be 
found. At this time General Ransom arrived with the 2d 
Brigade of the 13th Army Corps to relieve the 1st Brigade 
of its duty. 

About four miles from Mansfield the road ran through a 
clearing in front of a hill of considerable height where the 
timber was not quite so thick as it had been elsewhere. 
This point was chosen as the scene of the engagement. A 
description of the arrangement of troops may be taken from 
Colonel Lee's report :^^ 

"Two regiments of the 4th Brigade Cavalry, Colonel 
Dudley, were placed on the flank, deployed in the woods. The 
Second Illinois Cavalry formed a half mile in rear of the first 
line. Nims' Battery was placed in position at the crest of the 
hill, in and to the right and left of the road. A section of the 
Sixth Missouri Howitzer was placed at its left. A brigade 
of infantry was placed in the front, one regiment to the left 
of Nims' Battery, the others to the right. A second brigade 
was placed on our right flank, facing the enemy who appeared 
in that direction. The First Brigade Cavalry, Col. T. J. 
Lucas commanding, was placed on the extreme right of the 
line and fought dismounted. With this brigade was a section 
of the 6th Missouri Howitzer Battery and a section of Rawles' 
Battery. The Third Brigade was in the rear escorting the 
train which was halted a mile and a half from our front." 

About 1 p. M. General Banks and his staff arrived and Gen- 
eral Lee reported to him the arrangements of his troops and 
the apparent position and strength of the enemy and his 

"Ofif. Rec, Vol. 34 p. 451. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 67 

opinion that the carmy must either fall back or be reinforced 
by infantry. General Banks gave orders that the jiosilion 
should be maintained and at the same time sent to General 
FrankHn to hurry forward the infantry. 

About 4.30 the enemy, made a general attack in front 
and right flank, driving infantry and cavalry, back to 
the hne where the battery was stationed. The guns 
of the battery were being fired as rapidly as possible with 
double charges of canister, and although many of the men 
were recruits, having had no experience under fire, every 
one of them stood up to his work as bravely as the veterans. 

When, however, the infantry support failed (except for the 
23d Wisconsin and 19th Kentucky), orders were given to re- 
tire in order that the guns might not fall into the hands of the 
enemy. Three of the guns had to be left on the field as the 
horses had been killed. At the foot of the hill a stand was 
made, but the rout had become so general that the battery 
could not maintain its position and was almost surrounded by 
the enemy. Orders were therefore given to retreat. 

About a mile from the battlefield was the wagon train of 
the cavalry division, which had become blocked in the ruts 
and mud and entirely obstructed the narrow road. 

The road was so obstructed at this point and the rush of 
retreating forces so great that it became necessary to abandon 
the remaining three guns, together with caissons, baggage 
wagons, battery wagon and forges. 

To account for the position of the cavalry train we quote 
from the ^^ report of Col. John G. Chandler, acting cliief 
quarter-master. 

"Both General Franklin and General Lee wanted the 
cavalry train to move in the rear of the infantry force, but 
they disagreed as to the precedence of position when the 
trains should be joined. General Lee desired that his train 
should precede General Franklin's infantry train, and the 

n Off. Rec, Vol. 34 p. 238. 



68 Second Massachusetts Battery 

latter insisted that the infantry trains should move in the 
rear of the infantry force. Because of this disagreement no 
change was made on the day of the engagement." 

We give here an account of the engagement as taken from 
the records of C. B. Maxwell and J. S. Knowlton: 

"At 6 A. M. we started for the advance, marched three miles 
and came upon a large force of the enemy under Dick Taylor. 
Two brigades of the 13th Army Corps were sent to us as 
reinforcements and formed a line of battle, acting as skir- 
mishers. The enemy commenced slowly falling back but 
closely contending every inch of ground, and in this way we 
drove them ten miles. At Sabine Cross Roads the enemy 
made a stand in the woods before which was a clearing of 
some 75 acres where our cavalry manoeuvred. The enemy 
was very strongly reinforced at this point. At the extreme 
front was a hill 50 yards in diameter upon which our six guns 
were placed. The 4th Brigade of cavalry was on our left 
with two of the 6th Missouri Howitzers. 

"About three o'clock General Banks and his staff arrived. 
General Lee, on seeing General Banks dismount, saluted and 
said: T am confident. General, that we have a powerful 
force in front and if we make the attack I am confident we 
shall be repulsed.' General Banks made no reply, but it 
was noticed he looked serious. All the staff officers with those 
of General Lee were sent hurriedly to right, left and rear. 
About 4 p. M. General Banks' chief of staff rode along our 
left to where the third piece stood and said to me (Maxwell), 
'Call your men, load your gun and point it down the road. 
If you see anyone crossing where the road enters the wood, 
open fire. Don't wait for further orders.' In less than 
fifteen minutes the enemy were sneaking across the road and 
the third detachment obeyed orders. The battle was on. 
We soon discovered men coming out of the woods much nearer 
than those down the road, so we fired to the front and right 
until they came to point-blank range and then we fed it to 



Second Massachusetts Battery 09 

them with double-shotted canister. AUhough llie battle 
was very severe, we received no reinforcements except the 
3d division of the 13th Corps. Owing to the superior force 
of the enemy, our cavalry and infantry were driven back, 
leaving the hill on which our six guns were planted with our 
support of 23d Wisconsin and 19th Kentucky to fight nearly 
alone. 

"Our guns belched forth double-shotted canister and the 
enemy in front, eight deep in line, suffered terribly at each 
discharge. Wide gap^ were opened in their ranks but were 
immediately filled up again. Finally, all the horses on three 
of our guns were killed, making it impossible to remove the 
guns from the field. The remaining three guns being out 
of ammunition retired to the foot of the hill where our caisson 
lay, filled up with ammunition and went into position. By 
this time infantry and cavalry had become completely routed 
and were fleeing to the rear. Our officers tried to rally them 
but in vain. Finding it impossible to save the guns, our 
officers ordered us to slip our traces and save our fives if 
possible, which the men did reluctantly. Our wagon train 
had been pushed forward before the engagement, completely 
blocking the road, making a retreat impossible. During the 
night we fell back to Pleasant Hill, a distance of 13 miles, and 
in the morning our company assembled under Lieutenant 
Greenleaf. We had lost our guns and everything we pos- 
sessed except the clothes we had on." 

The loss of the battery in this battle was very severe. 
Lieutenant Snow was shot through the left lung and left on 
the field. Private Reardon was killed. Lieutenant Slack 
was wounded, 18 men were wounded, of whom fi^•e were 
taken prisoners, together with seven unwounded men. Be- 
sides the loss of guns and caissons, 82 of the battery's horses 
were either killed or wounded. In spite of the terrible defeat 
and loss, the battery won great praise for its indomitable 
courage and for the way it handled its guns, for we read in 



70 Second Massachusetts Battery 

the report of Col. J. W. Landrum/^ "It is proper to say that 
Captain Niins' Battery displayed throughout the whole of 
the fight an example of coolness and true courage unsurpassed 
in the annals of history. They are entitled to highest com- 
mendation, and although they lost their guns it is due to 
them to say that they could not have prevented it, and that 
the damage they inflicted on the enemy was such as to entitle 
them to the thanks of the whole army." 

Another quotation is from the Lacon, 111., Gazette," "Nims' 
Battery worked manfully — the veteran battery, hero of 
seventeen engagements, all successful, but doomed this time 
to defeat. They double charged their guns with canister 
and adding a bag of bullets mowed the enemy down only 
to have their places filled by the advancing hordes." Again, 
"Nims' splendid battery with its honorable record on every 
field from Baton Rouge to Port Hudson was taken by 
Walker's men." Irwin. 

Brig. Gen. W. H. Emery, commanding First Division of 
the 19th Army Corps, had been notified of the state of affairs 
and had been ordered to advance as rapidly as possible and 
form a line of battle in order to support the retreating troops 
and check the advance of the enemy. He took his position 
at Pleasant Grove about three miles from Sabine Cross 
Roads, the First Brigade, General Dwight, being placed 
across the road upon which the enemy was advancing. Wait- 
ing until the enemy was within close range they poured a 
tremendous volley along the whole front, causing it to fall 
back. The action lasted for an hour and a half, then dark- 
ness coming on there was a cessation of hostilities. During 
the night the entire army retired to Pleasant Hill, where a 
battle was fought the next day, but in which the battery 
naturally took no part. The struggle, however, was desper- 
ate and sanguinary. The defeat of the enemy was complete 

" Off. Rec. Vol. 34 p. 293. 

17 Putman's Record of the Rebellion, Vol. 8. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 71 

and their loss in officers and men more than double that 
sustained by the Union forces. 

It was a sorry looking company of men that gathered at 
Pleasant Hill the next morning — the remnant of "the finest 
battery in the army." Guns, caissons, wagon and supphes 
lost — nothing left but the clothes the men wore. As for 
blankets, one rubber and one woolen blanket had to do for 
five men, while half rations only made one all the more 
hungry. 

The next day the remaining men were assigned to guard 
the ammunition train on the retreat to Grand Ecore, which 
was reached on the 10th. Here the Union army gathered 
its scattered battalions. 

As the members of the battery were without equipment, 
they were ordered to New Orleans, and on the 19th went on 
board the little steamer Meteor, arriving at New Orleans on 
the 22d, where they remained until the 10th of May. During 
their stay in New Orleans occurred an event which showed 
the pleasant relation existing # between the members of the 
battery and its commander. The following quotation is 
taken from the New Orleans Era of April 26, 1864. 

Presentation of a Sword to Captain Orivl\nd F. Nims, 
2d Massachusetts Light Horse Artillery 

Yesterday afternoon was the occasion of quite a little sur- 
prise party at the quarters of the 2d Massachusetts Light 
Horse Battery. Captain Nims was presented with a mag- 
nificent sword, sash and belt, by the non-commissioned 
officers and men who still represent the original members of 
this fine command, and who have long wished for an oppor- 
tunity of expressing in some such manner their appreciation 
of the constant care and watchfulness for their welfare exhib- 
ited at all times and under all circumstances by Captam 
Nims, as well as to present a lasting memento of their respect 



72 Second Massachusetts Battery 

and affection for their beloved commander. It was but a 
well-merited tribute to sterling worth. This splendid sword 
was manufactured by Tiffany & Co., of New York, and is 
one of the finest ever got up by that firm. The presentation 
speech, made by Joshua F. Robertson, was as follows: 
"Captain, I have been requested by the members of this 
command to say a few words on presenting you this token 
of our high esteem. It is now nearly three years since you 
took command of this battery, and I am confident, sir, that 
I express the sentiments of us all when I say that we have 
never had cause to regret, but much rather to rejoice, that 
you have commanded the 2d Massachusetts Battery. Your 
example as a soldier and a gentleman, your example on the 
battlefield and in camp, your forbearance and leniency 
towards us, your kind attention to many of us during the 
long and tedious hours of sickness, have endeared you to us 
by ties of friendship which we trust may never be forgotten. 
Those members of the battery who, in the first campaign in 
this Department, fell victims to disease contracted in the 
swamps opposite Vicksburg, and who now sleep beside the 
honored dead at Baton Rouge and in the cemeteries of this 
city — methinks that if our shrill morning reveille could but 
awake them, they would reiterate what I now say, that you, 
by your constant watchfulness, kindness and attention, did 
all that lay in human power to alleviate their sufferings. In 
asking you to accept this sword, we know that it will never 
be drawn but in the cause of freedom, in which we are all 
battUng, and never will be sheathed in disgrace. In after 
years, when this wicked rebellion shall have been crushed, 
and should it be our good fortune to return with you to our 
fair New England homes, we hope this memento we now 
present you will at least serve to remind you of the pleasant 
associations and the many trying scenes through which we 
have passed. In conclusion, let me say, sir, that you will 
ever bear with you the best wishes of every man under your 



Second Massachusetts Battery 73 

command, and we hope that hereafter, in what position so- 
ever you may be placed— whether in command of the !2d 
Massachusetts Battery or in a higher station— the same 
good feeUng may exist between you and those under your 
command that has ever existed between yourself and the 
members of this battery." 

Reply 

"Fellow Soldiers of the 2d Massachusetts Battery— I 
cannot express to you the feelmgs of surprise and astonish- 
ment with which the present occasion had filled me. I need 
not remind you that I am no speech maker, for you are 
well aware that I am a man of but few words. I fear, how- 
ever, that you have overrated the little it has laid in my 
power to do for your comfort, wehare and efficiency. But 
of one thing, I feel conscious, gentlemen, and that is, that I 
have endeavored to do my duty by you, by my country, 
and by myself. Rest assured that I shall ever look upon 
the present as one of the happiest moments of my life, and 
that your highly prized gift shall never be drawn but in the 
cause of freedom and of our common country. Accept, gentle- 
men, my sincere and heartfelt thanks." 

The boys dispersed to their quarters with six rousing cheers 
for Captain Nims, who, truth to say, was almost overpowered 
by his feelings, so completely was he taken by surprise. 

We also quote the Special Order No 1 issued April 28, as 
still further indicating the honor given to the battery by 
commander and other officers. 

Special Order No. 1 

"The commandant takes this method of congratulating 
his command upon the part which they took in the engage- 
ment at Sabine Cross Roads, La., on the 8th inst., and of 
thanking them not only for himself, but also in behalf of the 
general commanding the division, and the general command- 



74 Second Massachusetts Battery 

ing in the field, for the gallantry, courage, and efficiency with 
which you conducted yourselves in the trying position in 
which you were placed. Although it has been your mis- 
fortune to lose your guns, it is gratifying to know that it was 
through no dereUction or shortcoming on your part; having 
done all that lay in your power as brave men to do. We 
must submit to the misfortune with the best grace we may. 
Your commandant would also express his satisfaction at the 
sorrow exhibited on all hands at your misfortune, by officers 
of every grade in the service as well as by civilians, which 
tends to show in a clearer light the golden opinions you have 
won on all hands. Your commandant is proud not only at 
the battle of Sabine Cross Roads but in every other battle 
in which you have been engaged. He gives the credit all to 
you, and hopes you will continue to deserve the high enco- 
miums so universally bestowed upon you and to maintain in 
all places, whether in camp or in the field, your good name 
untarnished." Per Order, 

Captain Nims. 

While in New Orleans still another presentation took place. 
This time a handsome pistol and equipments were presented 
to Captain Nims by members of the battery who were not 
included in the first presentation. A few words may be 
quoted from a paper giving an account of this event: "It 
is quite refreshing to observe the almost fatherly care and 
affection for his men exhibited by Captain Nims and the 
respect, — we had almost said adoration — combined with 
the most perfect discipline on the part of his men for their 
beloved commander." 

On the 10th of May the battery was transported to Carroll- 
ton, where an outfit of light guns and horses was furnished 
them to be used in defense of New Orleans. All troops 
quartered in New Orleans were ordered to Carrollton because 
of the smallpox which was raging in the city. Private 



Second Massachusetts Battery 75 

Marsh of the 2d Battery died of this disease at the United 
States Hospital on May 13. On the 18th of June, Lieutenant 
Snow and the other members of the battery taken at Sabine 
Cross Roads arrived at New Orleans, having been lately 
paroled. Two, however, had died of their wounds. Privates 
Maxwell and Howarth. 

During the stay a handsome guidon was presented to the 
members of the battery by Massachusetts friends then 
residing in New Orleans. This guidon was presented by 
Captain Nims to Governor Draper on June 9, 1910, and may 
be seen at the State House in the Hall of Flags. It is of a 
golden bronze color, and on it are the crossed cannon of the 
battery, the words Second Massachusetts over the state 
shield and the names of twelve battles in which the battery 
took part. Vicksburg, Baton Rouge, Irish Bend, Vermillion 
Bayou, Port Hudson, Clinton, Carrion Crow Bayou, Grand 
Coteau, Vermillionville, Indian Bend, Wilson's Farm, Sabine 
Cross Roads. 

As the time of enlistment of the original members was about 
to expire and as new recruits were coming in, the battery 
was divided into two divisions known as the Old and the 
New Companies. The veterans were reUeved from nearly 
all military service while the recruits with new guns and 
equipments spent much of their time in drill. 

While the men were waiting for transportation North, 
Captain Nims was ordered to Boston on recruiting service, 
and on July 27 he started North leaving Lieutenant Green- 
leaf in command of the original battery. 

On July 31 they went aboard the United States Mail 
Steamer Matanza and started down the river, the whole 
company singing "Home Sweet Home." All along the 
homeward route the men were greeted Mith public demon- 
strations of esteem and appreciation. They arri\ed m 
Boston August 9, the company consisting of 78 men and 
two officers. Second Lieut. J. W. Greenleaf being the only 



76 Second Massachusetts Battery 

officer present, save Captain Nims. They were met at the 
station by Captain Nims and Captain Cummings of the 
Boston Light Artillery, with a detachment of the company, 
and were taken to the United States Hotel, where a hand- 
some breakfast was served. They were then escorted through 
the principal streets, arriving at the Armory about one 
o'clock. Here a grand dinner was had, after which Mayor 
Lincoln welcomed the veterans home in a few brief and cordial 
words. Captain Nims responded in an appropriate manner 
and the men were then furloughed until the 16th. 

On that day they met at the Armory, delivered the flags 
to Captain Nims to be put in the State House, and were 
mustered out of the United States service August 16, 1864. 

While this marks the end of the history of the original 
Nims' Battery, as 23 of the original number had reenhsted 
and recruits had been received from time to time, the organiza- 
tion of the 2d Massachusetts was continued. Transportation 
was taken on the 2d of September for Morganza, where the 
battery encamped for the winter. The monotony of this 
encampment was varied by scouting expeditions in which 
the various sections took part. 

Meanwhile, Captain Nims had opened recruiting head- 
quarters in the North and soon secured enlistments enough 
to fill existing vacancies, and in December was on his way 
back to the seat of action. Lieutenant Snow, who had been 
weakened by his wounds and captivity, was discharged 
November 30, and on the 7th of January, 1865, Captain 
Nims resigned his commission. Lieutenant Marland was 
promoted to fill the vacancy, the other lieutenants were 
advanced, and the second lieutenancies were filled by the 
promotion of First Sergeant Louis W. Swan and Sergeant 
Jacob M. Ellis, both of Boston. 

The battery was next ordered to report to General Steele 
for active service, and accordingly arrived at New Orleans 
on March 7, where it took transport for Barrancas, Fla., 



Second Massachusetts Battery 77 

arriving there on the 10th. After waiting about a week it 
began its march through the woods and swamps of Florida 
toward Mobile. Rain fell most of the time and the mud 
was unfathomable. Fighting its way from point to point 
wherever troops could fight, the battery finally reached Fort 
Blakely on April 2. It was necessary to take this point 
before proceeding to Mobile, and after waiting a few days 
the place was finally taken by assault on April 9, 1865. After 
the fall of Fort Blakely the battery started with a column of 
infantry and cavalry toward Claiborne, Ala. Its last serious 
conflict was at Daniel's Landing on the 11th. 

For the next seven weeks the battery was almost constantly 
on the march until men, horses, and mules were completelj' 
worn out. Late in May, Columbus, Miss., was reached. The 
men were sent to Mobile and then on to Vicksburg, which 
they reached on June 4. Since landing in Florida they had 
traveled over 1600 miles. 

The company encamped at Vicksburg till July 22, when 
it turned its equipment over to the United States authorities 
and set out for home. 

Boston was reached on the 4th of August, the men encamp- 
ing on Galloupes Island till the 11th, when they were paid and 
discharged. 



NIMS' BATTERY ASSOCIATION 

After over three years of association in camp and field tlie 
ties of comradeship among the members of the battery were 
too strong to be ignored and the mustering out of the original 
members had hardly severed the official bond than prepara- 
tions were begun for the formation of an organization to be 
known as Nims' Battery Association. On December 10, 
1864, a meeting was called at the Webster House, at which 
time this association was organized and officers elected. 

The preamble to the constitution as given in the first 
secretary's book is as follows: 

"Associated as we have been together for the past three 
years both in camp and on the field of battle, bound together 
by more than brotherly ties, we should feel grateful for our 
safe return and proud to know that we once constituted a 
battery that knew no superior in style or action. 

"Therefore we the undersigned do organize an association 
for our mutual benefit and do hereby adopt the following 
rules and regulations to secure good order and to determine 
our rights, duties and privileges as members of said asso- 
ciation." 

The officers chosen at this time were: President, Henry E. 
Brown; Vice-President, George E. Ham; Secretary, P. J. 
Mayer; Treasurer, William D. Butts. 

As the vice-president and secretary dechned to serve, these 
offices were filled at a subsequent meetmg by the election 
of C. B. Maxwell, Vice-President; J. S. Knowlton, Secretary. 

It was voted that regular meetings should be held monthly 
and the place of meeting w^as to be at Evans Hall, Tremont 

Row. 

The early records of the association give only a hint of the 

79 



80 Second Massachusetts Battery 

life of the organization, but we will indicate a few incidents 
that may be of interest to the surviving members. 

On March 27, 1865, we find that the battery attended as 
a body the grand mass meeting of the Veterans' Union held 
in Tremont Temple, while on June 1 at a grand procession 
in Boston it appeared on parade with badges and drum corps 
and bearing the colors carried by them during the war. A 
letter from Captain Nims, who was then in New Orleans, 
in reply to a request for the colors is incorporated in the 
records and may well be quoted here. 

"Your note dated April 4 came to hand yesterday morning 
requesting the loan of the company colors on all important 
occasions, once the colors borne by the noble old 2d Massa- 
chusetts Battery which I am ever proud to call mine. In 
answer I will say that it gives me great pleasure through the 
representative of the association to tender the use of the 
colors on all important occasions. Knowing well the past 
conduct of the members of the association, I have no fear 
for the care and protection of the colors while under their 
charge. Wishing all prosperity and happiness I subscribe 
myseK 

"Respectfully your humble servant, 

"O. F. Nims." 

Although few fatalities occurred on the field or in camp 
among" the members of the battery, the first year at home 
brought death to some of the number, among whom were 
Comrade J. C. Tate, who died on April 16, 1865, and Comrade 
Charles W. Green, who died on June 25 of the same year. 
In both instances the battery paid the last sad honors to 
its former comrades and in one case gave material aid as 
well. We also find under the date August 6, 1866 resolu- 
tions on the death of A. Barsantee, another one of the boys. 

The first social event in the history of the association was 
a grand ball held about the first of March, 1865. Other 




ccimI)) xAt/^^ 



Second Massachusetts Battery 81 

balls followed, and indeed they seem to have become annual 
affairs kept up for some time; for in a newspaper clipping we 
read: "The seventh annual ball of Nims' Battery Association 
took place last evening at Boylston Hall. As the members 
of this association bear an enviable reputation in matters of 
this kind the hall was filled with a very good humored and 
sociable company. . . . These balls always afford a 
good opportunity for old comrades to meet and enjoy social 
intercourse and pleasant reminiscences." 

As time went on and other duties and interests became more 
imperative, the monthly meeting at Evans Hall was no longer 
deemed advisable and Colonel Nims kindly tendered the 
use of a room at 80 Cambridge Street, where the association 
property could be kept and meetings held. This offer was 
accepted and the change made on July 15, 1867. 

We have no records as to where and when the first annual 
banquet took place. We find, however, an interesting account 
of the fourth annual banquet taken from the Boston Journal, 
undated, which is as follows: 

"The fourth annual reunion of the Nims' Battery Associa- 
tion was held last evening in the parlors of the American 
House. About 40 members were present, most of them 
men who went out at the first and stayed at the post till the 
battery was mustered out of service. General William 
Schouler was the invited guest on this occasion. 

"After an hour's social intercourse the meeting was called 
to order by the President, Col. O. F, Nims. 

"The committee appointed to consider the matter of the 
preparation of the history of the battery reported that little 
progress had been made. Some material had been collected 
but more funds were needed. The matter was discussed 
quite freely, with the prevailing opinion that the work should 
be completed and pubhshed. . . . After dinner was 
served. General Schouler was called upon and said he was 
glad to meet Colonel Nims and his old command and would 

6 



82 Second Massachusetts Battery 

only say what was said of them when at the front that this 
battery was one of the best, if not the best, that went from 
Massachusetts. . . . The regular toasts were then 
announced. 

Our Country — ^response by Mr. Thomas Knights who sang 
America. 

Massachusetts — response by Captain Marland. 

Nims' Battery — response letter from Col. H. E. Paine, etc. 

Another interesting meeting was held on December 12, 
1879. "It was the first gathering of the old organization 
which had occurred for five years and fully 40 members were 
present accompanied by several of the 13th Battery. The 
early part of the evening was spent in social intercourse, 
singing of songs, and the election of ofiicers. The after dinner 
exercises included speeches, reminiscences of camp life and 
interesting facts concerning the association since the close of 
the war. Letters of regret were received from many promi- 
nent members of the old battery and from Col. H. E. Paine 
of the 4th Wisconsin Regiment." 

Other notable occasions were the reunion at the home of 
Comrade John G. Dimick, Worcester, where the hospitality 
of the host and his wife made the meeting especially dehght- 
ful, and the 25th anniversary in 1890 when nearly fifty of 
the boys together with Generals Dudley and Kimball and 
/ Past Deputy Commander Billings as guests gathered at 
the call of the bugler to a feast of good things and an evening 
of fellowship and army stories. 

In 1888 the Nims' Battery Ladies' Social Club was organ- 
ized and since that date has held its meetings annually at the 
time of the battery reunion. Its members are the mothers, 
wives, and daughters or indeed any relative of the men of 
the battery and its purpose is not solely social but mutually 
helpful as well. It aims to visit the sick among the members, 
to give material aid if necessary and in any way possible 
assist the organization to which it is auxiliary. 



Second Massachusetts Battery 83 

The annual reunions were at first held on February 22, 
but in recent years this date has been changed to April 19. 

As the years have passed the grim reaper Death has ap- 
peared more and more often and the ranks have gradually 
thinned until in 1912 only 14 of the regular members were 
present at the annual reunion. 

To those who remain, however, the memories and asso- 
ciations of more than a half century ago are still precious, 
and form a bond which will be broken only when life itself 
shall -cease. 



LIFE OF COL. ORMAND F. NIMS 

A history of the 2d Massachusetts Light Artillery \\i[\ 
hardly be regarded as complete unless it contains a sketch of 
the life of its commander, Capt. Ormand F. Nims. 

i^From the time of the early settlement of America down to 
the last war in which the United States has been engaged, 
the Nims family has participated in the oflfensive and defen- 
sive campaigns of the country save only in the war with 
Mexico. Indeed it may truly be said that the commander 
of Nims' Battery came of good fighting stock. The family 
of Nims is descended from the old Huguenots of France, com- 
ing from that part of the country where is situated the city 
Nismes, from which is derived the family name de Nismes, 
or as it is now written Nims. Godefroi de Nismes, or as 
known here, Godfrey Nims came to this country in the 17th 
century, the first mention of his name being found in 
the records of Northampton under the date September 4, 
1667. He was in Turner's Fight, May 18„ 1676 and was a 
soldier in King Philip's War. He was twice married . His 
first wife was Mary, daughter of William IVIiller and widow 
of Zebadiah Wilhams. His second wife was INIehitabel, 
daughter of William Smead and widow of Jeremiah Hall. 
He had six children by his first wife and five by the second. 
Rebecca (died young), Rebecca, John, Henry, Thankful, 
Ebenezer, Thomas, Mehitabel, Mary, Mercy and Abigail. 
The family of Godfrey Nims were victims of that terrible 
Indian tragedy which resulted in the destruction of Deerfield, 
Mass., to which place Mr. Nims had moved in 1686. This 
calamity occurred February 29, 1704. On that fatal day, Mrs. 

■'The facts concerning the early history of the Nims family have been 
taken from addresses given by Rev. J. L. Seward, D.D., Keene, N. H. 

85 



86 Second Massachusetts Battery 

Nims was captured and was slain on the way to Canada. Her 
dweUing was destroyed by fire. The eldest survivmg 
daughter, then Mrs. Mattoon, was slain, together with 
an only child, Henry; the eldest son was captured and slain. 
Ebenezer, the second son, was captured and carried to 
Canada. Mehitabel, Mary and Mercy were burned with the 
house. Abigail, the youngest was captured at the age of 
four years and carried to Canada, where she married another 
captive, Josiah Rising, then christened Ignace Raizeune, 
received a permanent home, and a large domain. 

It does not appear that Godfrey Nims was captured at this 
time. The suggestion has been made that he was with a 
military company elsewhere. An inventory of his estate 
was taken at Deerfield, March 12, 1704, or 5, the presumption 
being that he had died there just previously. 

Ebenezer and John were the two surviving sons of Godfrey. 
John has many descendants in Michigan and other parts of 
the West. Ebenezer was carried to Canada as was also 
another captive, Sarah Hoyt. These two were married in 
Canada and had there one son also named Ebenezer. They 
were redeemed by Stoddard and Williams with difficulty in 
1814 and returned to Deerfield, where four more sons were 
born, David, Moses, Elisha, Amasa. David, son of Ebene- 
zer, was born at Deerfield, March 30, 1716 and died in Keene, 
July 21, 1803. He came to Keene while a boy and was ap- 
pointed scribe by the proprietors July 25, 1737. At the 
first town meeting after the town was chartered by New 
Hampshire which was held May 2, 1753, he was elected first 
town clerk and after that held some town oflSce nearly every 
year till 1776. In 1740, he was granted 10 acres of upland 
in Keene, for hazarding his life and estate by living in the 
place to promote the settlement of the township. Still later 
he was granted 104 acres in that part of Keene, which is now 
in the town of Roxbury. This estate is at present occupied 
by David Brigham Nims, his great great-grandson. He 



Second Massachusetts Battery 87 

had ten children one of whom Asahel fell at the battle of 
Bunker Hill. "On the morning when Captain Wyman and 
his men left Keene for Massachusetts, Asahel came into town 
from his home on the Sullivan Hills where he was clearing land 
and getting ready to settle with one whom he hoped soon to 
marry. He saw the military movement and was fired with 
that spirit of military and patriotic fervor which has been such 
a characteristic of the Nims family. One fellow who had 
enlisted did not have the courage to start. Asahel consented 
to take that fellow's place and lost his life in his first battle. 
He was buried on the battlefield and his name is recorded on 
one of the gates of Bunker Hill Park." 

Zadok, another son and the grandfather of Col. Ormand 
Nims fought at Lake Champlain, and it is a tradition con- 
cerning him that at this time he became so exhausted that 
his commander and comrades believed him dead. They were 
preparing his body for burial, when to their delighted sur- 
prise he came to his senses and afterward fully recovered. 

Col. Ormand F. Nims was born in Sullivan, N. H., August 
30, 1819, his father. Philander Nims, being a farmer in that 
vicinity and his mother, the daughter of Col. Solomon Wliite 
of Uxbridge, Mass. 

Colonel White served seven years in the War for Inde- 
pendence and later commanded a Massachusetts regiment at 
the head of which he marched to Worcester at the time of 
Shay's Rebellion. An uncle, Frederick Nims, served during 
the War of 1812 performing creditable military service. 

Ormand Nims was twenty-three years old when he left the 
farm in Sulhvan and came to Boston, where in 1854 he 
bought a drug store on Cambridge Street and set up m 
business for himself. His first taste of a militarj^ career had 
been when, a boy of fifteen, he had joined the Sullivan 
Militia commanded by his brother. In 1853 he with his two 
brothers joined the Lancers and this branch of the miUtia of 



88 Second Massachusetts Battery- 

Massachusetts had no more ardent members than these three 
young men from New Hampshire. 

It happened that about this time General Sherman's 
Battery of United States artillery came to Boston from 
Newport for the purpose of giving an exhibition in encamp- 
ment, parade, and drill on Boston Common. Young Nims 
saw the drill and was delighted; after this nothing would do 
for him but the artillery. 

Early in 1854 he enlisted in a new battery raised under 
command of Capt. Moses G. Cobb, and was made first ser- 
geant on the night of his enlistment. After three years of ser- 
vice, he was made fourth lieutenant and later received command 
of the battery. During his term of command he made this 
battery famous for its efficiency and perfect organization. 

"I resigned from my command in 1860," said Colonel 
Nims in an interview some years since, "and my last appear- 
ance with it, my last parade in fact, was on the occasion of 
the review on Boston Common by the Prince of Wales, the 
late King Edward, who was on a visit to America." 

Then came the Civil War. The battery with which Colo- 
nel Nims had been connected was among the first to volunteer 
and although he was not a member he rendered efficient aid 
in equipping and drilhng the men, accompanying them as far 
as New York when they started on active service. Just as he 
took the train, a prominent official said to him, "Nims, we 
will have six guns ready for you when you return. 

The organization of the 2d Massachusetts and its service in 
the field has already been recorded in the pages of this book 
and this naturally includes the mihtary career of its captain. 

A few quotations may serve to show the more personal side 
of Colonel Nims and the relations existing between the 
commander and his men. 

The following extract is from a letter written by an officer 
while at Franklin, La. " Captain Nims is the hardest working 
officer I ever saw, always looking out for the interests of the 



Second Massachusetts Battery 89 

battery and the men. Hardly ever in his quarters, nothing 
escapes his observation. He is a man of strict probity and 
has none of the minor vices, always rehable and reminds one of 
the hero Garibaldi. Although proud of his battery and its rep- 
utation, and pleased at anything wiitten or said in its praise, 
he thoroughly detests personal flattery and indeed I would 
not venture to say this much to liim for my commission." 

A quotation from the Boston Transcript at the close of the 
war: "It is a remarkable fact that during the three and a half 
years that Captain Nims commanded the 2d Battery, 
punishment was to its members almost unknown. Splendid 
discipline was maintained solely by esprit de corps and by 
the respect and affection entertained for the commander on 
one hand and by the fatherly care and sohcitude always 
exhibited by Captain Nims for his men under all circum- 
stances. The slight mortahty by disease in this battery is 
attributed by the members to the efficiency of their leader." 

Some years after the war a niece of Colonel Nims was 
visiting in the South and dined at the home of a former 
Confederate captain. She was told that at one time during 
the war, orders were given to the Confederate officers to kill 
Captain Nims at any cost as his battery was inflicting so 
much damage upon their forces. 

After the discharge of the original Nims' Battery at the 
end of three years, Captain Nims immediately secured enough 
enhstments for another battery and at once returned to New 
Orleans. But an injury to his ankle received while he was at 
home to muster out his men, and the fact that most of his 
boys were no longer with him led him to resign his commission 
and accept a position in the Chief Quarter-Master's depart- 
ment at New Orleans, where he remained till after the close 
of the war. After peace had been fully restored and the work 
of reconstruction had been begun, Captain Nims returned to 
Boston and bought back the little drug store he had left at the 
beginning of the war, where he remained for nearly a half 



90 Second Massachusetts Battery 

century until at the age of ninety he retired from business, in 
1910. After the return of peace the attention of the govern- 
ment was directed to Captain Ninas' services and on March 
13, 1865, by special enactment of the Senate he received the 
titles of "Brevet Major — Brevet Lieutenant — Colonel — and 
Brevet Colonel, for gallant and meritorious service during the 
war," thus explaining the title Colonel Nims. 

After leaving the army. Colonel Nims took almost no part 
in military or political affairs — except in connection with 
Nims' Battery Association and for a short time serving as 
commander of Post 7, G.A.R. He was also a member of the 
Loyal Legion. He would never accept a pension. To 
quote his own words on the subject, "I don't want a 
pension. It doesn't seem right to me that a man should be 
paid by the Federal government simply because he was in the 
army. I served my country to the best of my ability and I 
don't want any pay for it either. If one were incapacitated 
for earning a living that would be a different matter." 

During the half century that Colonel Nims maintained his 
drug store at the West End he saw many changes in that 
neighborhood. Someone has said that he served the poor 
and needy from his little store as faithfully as he ever served 
his country in the days of the war. Everyone in that section 
regarded him as a friend and helper, and he was always 
ready to give aid to those who needed it. He made it a 
practice to give away one prescription at least, every day. 
If the families of any of his men were in need, it was his delight 
to care for and assist them. 

Colonel Nims died at his home, 42 Blossom Street, on May 
23, 1911, at the age of 91 years. His funeral was held at 
Trinity Church on May 25 and was attended by the remain- 
ing members of the battery and by members of the Loyal 
Legion together with many friends who honored and loved 
him. He was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery. 

A Christian patriot and soldier. 



ROSTER OF 
SECOND MASSACHUSETTS BATTERY 



92 



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Second Massachusetts Battery 103 



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104 Second Massachusetts Battery 



^ • • . f . i_3 . . . iS 





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Second Massachusetts Battery 105 



•5 •? -g u -g -^ ^ -p -^ •?•?•? g g ^ 

m en f« 'I m rr, r± rn rr, m rr-, rn "J ^ ' _lJ rin ^ ^ ^ ^^ 



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1-1 '-' i-H CO ^ 



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i-H'-'.-(«»rHrH>-Sr-lrHi-l,-.,-(l>'-''-'«^g,-(,-i;i;rH«5rHrH*^ §, 



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III s-illl I i 11 i Iff II I i:-ill 



106 



Second Massachusetts Battery 



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Second Massachusetts Battery 107 



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108 Second Massachusetts Battery 



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Second Massachusetts Battery 109 



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